a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Swedish’

Final Oscar Predictions!

OscarsHere it is folks, my final Oscar predictions of the season 2015-2016, though Oscars are usually designated by the year they are handed out in so it’s 2016, barely two months old…

It’s Leo for Best Actor for “The Revenant.” Brie Larson for Best Actress of “Room.” And my fave Alicia Vikander is going to triumph in Supporting for my beloved “The Danish Girl.” Sorry, Kate Winslet. Everytime you go up against the lovely Alicia for “The Danish Girl” you lose. But you already have an Oscar. For “The Reader.”aLICIA vIKANDER1And I think it’s going to be “Spotlight.” for Best Picture. I’m going up against “The Revenant” because of the preferential ballot. “The Revenant” is going to win Best Director for Alejandro  Gonzalez  Inarritu and Best Cinematography for “Chivo” Lubezki and as I said, Leonardo will finally win an Oscar (he’s never won, although this is his fifth nomination). This VERY divisive, violent LONNNNNG film WILL get a lot of Oscars. But it’s not going to be so impressive watching it on a DVD, which how much of the Academy voters will be seeing it for the first time. Whereas “Spotlight” will gain.

And sadly, I’ll have to go with the crowd that thinks Sylvester Stallone deserves an Oscar for mumbling his way through “Creed.”

Best Animated Film will be “Inside Out.” Best Foreign Film will be “The Son of Saul.” “Spotlight” will win one Oscar for sure for Best Original Screenplay and “The Big Short” will win for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Should something happen early in the night, like Mark Ruffalo winning Best Supporting Actor for “Spotlight.” I’d just love that. And it would tell us that “Spotlight” may indeed win best Best Picture, too.

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Alicia Vikander “Danish Girl” Wins Best Supp. Actress ~ Critics Choice

Alicia Critics Choice 1Alicia Vikander just won the Critics Choice Award for the most hotly contested category of the year, Best Supporting Actress. She looked stunning in a very unusual, beaded, fitted, floor-length gown with what looked like Swedish symbols embroidered in to it. That was white patterns on grey with pops of color. She looked every inch a star and gave a stunning, very moving speech that is basically an audition for what she might say if she wins the Oscar, for which she was just was nominated this week.

Eddie Redmayne called his co-star in “The Danish Girl” “incandescent” and I think he’s right.

And it was for “The Danish Girl” NOT “Ex Machina,” where she plays a most memorable, sexy robot. In “The Danish Girl” she is playing Gerde Vegener, a real life Danish woman, a painter, who finds she is married to a man (Eddie Redmayne) who is transitioning into a woman named Lili Elbe.

Eddie & Alicia 1Vikander may have clinched her Oscar victory with her impassioned speech about the transgender community and transgender rights. Stunning AND Memorable! And since it was the extremely beautiful new Hollywood “It” Girl (even though she’s Swedish), it made it all the more powerful and palatable to the SWORM. The Straight White Old Rich Man who STILL to this day dominate the Academy.

#OscarsSoWhite does not apply to this Scandinavian beauty and the stirring speech she made. And because it’s a straight woman, and ONLY the Supporting Actress category, a category that they disdain as “not important” or not important ENOUGH, Alicia should slide by with her first Oscar in her hands just fine.

Best Supporting Actress, Wide Open or Not?

sarah PaulsonRoonwy MARA 2Is this year’s Supporting Actress race wide open or not? I think the HFPA(Hollywood Foreign Press Association) who give out the Golden Globs, er, I mean, GLOBES, dynamited both the Best Actress race and the Best Supporting Actress races, by insisting that Rooney Mara for “Carol” and Swedish actress Alicia Vikander of “The Danish Girl” MUST be considered in lead.aLICIA vIKANDER1

And they are 100% right! Both are leading roles. However, after seeing how dismal Rooney Mara’s “Carol” turn is, and how GREAT Cate (the Great) Blanchett’s is in the title role, I think voters are going to have no trouble nominating Blanchett, and overlooking the sub-par Mara for “Carol.”

I would never have thought that yesterday. I had to see it to believe it. I mean, Mara did win Best Actress in Cannes, which I guess in this day and race really means nothing.

And since Best Actress is incredibly jammed already, there just may not be room for Mara AND Blanchett, and/or for Mara and Vikander, who gives a truly transcendent performance as the conflicted wife of a transitioning transgender man-to-woman in “The Danish Girl,” played brilliantly by probable nominee for Best Actor, and last year’s winner, Eddie Redmayne.

Brie Larson in “Room” and Saorise Ronan in “Brooklyn” SEEM locked and loaded as they say. And then there’s Blanchett in “Carol” and Vikander. With only one slot left for Carey Mulligan in “Suffragette” with Lily Tomlin’s “Grandma” and Charlotte Rampling’s “45 years” nipping at her heels. Never mind Dame Maggie Smith coming up fast on the outside for her glorious, smelly, homeless woman “Lady in the Van.”

So who is going to fill up the now empty Best Supporting Actress race?

Well, as I said before, I would love it if Sarah Paulson (above top picture) got nominated for “Carol.” Since the HFPA’s Edict of Nantes, they CAN’T nominate Rooney,in Supporting, they might just go far Paulson’s steely Best Friend and ex-lover of Carol. That would be great and people WILL get to see “Carol”. And see Paulson in it and how good she is.

Paulson was pretty stellar in “Twelve Years a Slave” wherein she horrified voters as the vicious slave-owners wife, who throws a glass decanter in future Oscar winner Lupita N’yongo’s face, scarring her for life.

And then there’s room for probable nominee screen legend Jane Fonda getting in for a five minute scene in “Youth.” I bet they are going to nominate her sight unseen because she is well, Jane Fonda.Jane Fonda Youth 1

I keep banging the drums for Parker Posey in Woody Allen’s “Irrational Man,” but no one seems to be listening to me. Posey has another juicy role coming up next year in Woody’s next opus. Maybe the Academy will wait for that role before they get on the Parker-Posey-is-now-legit(to us)-train.Itrational Man 2

I’ve mentioned before two look-alike blondes Elizabeth Banks and Rachel McAdams in, respectively, “Love and Mercy” and “Spotlight,” the front-runner at the moment for Best Picture. Both blonde beauties may have been pushed further inside the race than they ever might have been otherwise by the HFPA’s ruling on Mara and Vikander.Elizabeth Banks1Rachel McAdams1And let’s not overlook the wonderful Oscar perennial Laura Linney, who really holds Ian McKellan’s house and home(and picture) together as the put-upon drudge of a housekeeper in “Mr. Holmes.” If the voters view “Mr. H.” to see Sir Ian’s great nonogenarian detective, they’ll see how beautiful Linney’s work is opposite him. I thought people would forget this charming film and McKellan’s and Linney’s lovely work in it, but it seems they’re not.Laura Holmes 1And last but not least, you can never count out Dame Helen Mirren’s campier-than-thou take on the late real life gossip columnist Hedda Hopper in “Trumbo,.” who underneath her elaborate headgear was a ruthless red=baiter.Helen Mirren Trumbo

There’s nothing like a Dame as the ole saying goes. A rubric that AMPAS lives by. They’ve always have got to get a “sir” or a “dame” in there somewhere to give the evening class.

Have I left anyone out? Probably. But I’ll catch you up on these magnificent ladies on the flip side.

On Seeing Eddie Redmayne’s Brilliant “The Danish Girl” a Second Time

Danish Eddie 1It was such a thrill to see “The Danish Girl” again last night after being totally enraptured and blown away by it in Toronto. And like in Toronto, at TIFF, in September, there was the same spellbound reaction from the tony audience.

You could hear a pin-drop. And at the end of this AMPAS-included screening, there was rousing applause. And cheering. And Bravos.

And I don’t usually do this, but I’m going to reprint my TIFF review in its entirety, so you won’t have to go hunting for it in the archives of this Blog.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Danish Eddie2

I’m devastated. I’m in tears writing this. “The Danish Girl” is a masterpiece, so moving, so profoundly important and brilliantly acted and directed, it will win Eddie Redmayne his second Oscar in a row for this heart-wrenching performance as first transgender Lili Elbe.  It has its’ slow patches, but once it gets going “The Danish Girl” is so powerful, so engaging, so beautiful, its’ ending, which I won’t reveal here, will absolutely crush you. And Eddie Redmayne is catapulted once again to the head of the Oscar race for Best Actor. As extraordinary as that sounds, it’s true.

His performance is beyond anything we’ve ever seen onscreen before. Never has this subject, transgender-ism, if there is such a word, been treated in this depth, and with such respect, and love. It’s a great love story. And not only Redmayne will be back at the top of everyone’s lists, director Tom Hooper, already an Oscar winner for “The King’s Speech”, will probably be up for every award in the book, for his sensitive, deft, beautifully handled helming of this tragic love story.Danish Eddie 3

And Alicia Vikander, who has been edging towards stardom, with every role she’s essayed, since she first came to global attention with “Anna Karenina”, as the blonde, sweet ingenue to Keira Knightley’s dark, tormented Anna, Alicia Vikander will for sure be nominated, perhaps as Best Actress even, but certainly as Best Supporting, for her astounding turn as Gerda Wegener, the devoted, confounded artist wife, whose husband, Einar is transitioning right before her confused, but compassionate eyes into Lili Elbe.(“Elbe, like the River” at one point Einar/Lili clarifies)

Einar and Gerde Wegener are a happily married couple at the start of “The Danish Girl” in 1920s Copenhagen. Both are artists, and there seems to be no clouds on their sunny, loving horizons. That begins to gradually change when one day, Gerde asks Einar to try on some ballerina attire of a model who has not shown up for her posing session. He obligingly does so, and the feelings of a woman’s stockings and shoes begin to arouse something deep-seated in him.

So begins Einar’s(Redmayne’s ) journey into what today is known as “transitioning.” We see this today in the person of Caitlyn Jenner, who used to be Bruce. Like it or not, Jenner has made this topic extremely relevant and the timing is just right for “The Danish Girl”s Oscar chances. Perfect, in fact.Eddie & Oscar 2

Redmayne’s Lili is a much more delicate, fragile creature than Caitlyn Jenner, needless to say. Redmayne gives her an ephemeral otherworldy quality. And he sensitively inhabits  her every single stage of her transformation. And makes clear what drives Lili  into emerging and totally obliterating Einar.

I did not know the shattered ending of this important, historic movie and I was totally enraptured, then horrified as “The Danish Girl” headed to its’ inexorable, tragic conclusion.

And Eddie Redmayne steps wholly and completely into screen history with this beyond magnificent portrayal. Another Oscar for Mr. Redmayne, please.

“Wallander 3” World-Weary & Wonderful on MHz

I have to confess that I am coming late to the Wallander party. Wallander, the character, the novels, the many, many TV films in Swedish and also in BBC English with Kenneth Branagh, no less, is more than a cottage industry. It’s pretty much a world-wide phenomenon.  After the early, tragic death of Swedish author Steig Larsson of the Millennium Trilogy, another Swedish crime novel author has emerged on the Swedish crime stage and  has survived and thrived to 66 . He is Henning Mankell and he has written a mountainous number of books, on Wallander and many other topics,  and is more than taking his place, in Sweden and in the world.

The super-quaint,  little medieval town of Ystaad, where Wallander is set and shot, has become a tourist destination! And Kurt Wallander, his world-weary, potato-like, sad sack of a Swedish detective, is underplayed in this series quite brilliantly by Krister Hendrickson,  and is almost as famous as a Swedish fictional character as Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” anti-heroine to end all anti-heroines.

Wallander (pronouced Val’-en-da) couldn’t be more different. He’s so every day, so every man, so ordinary, he’s almost invisible. But he has also taken hold of the world’s imagination, and its’ thirst for all things Swedish. That gloomy morose desire to suffer in the cold and ice was mightily filled in his lifetime by legendary Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman.

To my dismay, the younger generation does not take to Bergman or even know his work. If they know anything of Swedish note today, besides Ikea, it is Lisbeth Salander, and the American version of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” And also, right behind her is Kurt Wallander.

Larson was said to have devoured Swedish crime novels and one of the authors he was most influenced by was the prolific Henning Mankell. Who wrote more Wallander books and many other books, than Larsson ever did in his brief life-time.

Larsson, and the “Girl’ movies and books have whetted the public’s appetite seemingly for Swedish noir crime. In fact, I was shocked when I went to the main library in Manhattan and found out the nothing of Wallander, DVD, film or novel was in. All were checked out, but one, which I hungrily grabbed.

The female librarian said to me “Wallander is VERY popular.” The Vox Populi! The people have spoken.

In Mankell’s “The Man Who Laughed,” there is this passage that jumped out at me.

A solitary man, presumably Wallander himself, is driving down a lonely Swedish road at night, and feels a bump. He has hit a rabbit.

“He stopped and got out. The hare was lying on the road, its’ back legs kicking. But its’ eyes stared at him….He had never forgotten those eyes and the wildly kicking legs. The memory kept coming back again and again , usually at the most unexpected times…”

That’s a very good metaphor indeed. With a kind of awful poetry that Steig Larsson’s “just the facts” Milleninum writings eschews.

I think it’s this richness of the source material, Mankell’s writing, that lifts Wallander out of the realm of the ordinary procedural, though police crime drama is what it is.

The Swedish TV series, now available in the US on MHz DVDS,  is produced by the same company that produced the “Dragon Tattoo” movies. And it shows. Those films and the Wallander TV series echo each other, not just in their topics, human trafficking, arson, pedophilia, and of course, drugs, but in their doomy Swedish atmospheres.

Wallander is the essence of the plodding policeman, who doesn’t always get it write, in the opening episode, he gets so drunk, he leaves his police gun at a bar, and is suspended, until the Ystad police find out they can’t solve a crime without him.

The terrific Krister Hendrickson makes him so endearing a chap, I can’t imagine anyone else playing him. Especially not Kenneth ham-is-my-middle-name Branagh. But we’ll see.

And sometimes this season hits it right out of the ballpark in terms of impact. One episode “The Arsonist” particularly got to me. So well done and well acted and well shot by all parties. It was gripping and the ending chilling. Bravo to Episode 5! Wallander’s pen-ultimate case.

And you better enjoy Hendrickson’s Wallander while you can, because in the last episode,  #6 in this series, “A Troubled Man,” he gets Alzheimer’s. What American series would risk that? The central figure losing it to a disease that no one ever seems to suffer from on American series television. Hendrickson becomes increasingly forgetful and lost. He gets suspended (Again!) by the Ystaad crime unit.

His daughter, Linda, a cop herself, and also a devoted mother, with a small daughter who Wallander dotes on, is marvelously played with degrees and shadings of sympathy and strength and frustrated horror by Carlotta Johnson, as she begins to notice that Kurt, her father, is getting absent-minded and gradually slipping away.

As early as episode one, “The Troubled Man”(like for instance the forgetting the gun in the bar) and culminates with him wandering the streets of picturesque small town Ystaad with his shoes untied, not knowing where he is, in “The Man Who Wept,” who is ironically is the melancholy Wallander himself. And yes, in a climatic moment, Wallander cries. The series has built so carefully to this, it’s shattering.

Shakespeare  explored this same disease in “King Lear,” which I found myself seeing right in the middle of my Wallander binge-watching.

Dementia has always been with us as a disease and a topic and continues to be the unnerving presence that turns into an absence as we watch the sun sadly set on Kurt Wallender.

Don’t miss this Swedish series! You’ll find it hard to forget, and you’ll be hooked on all of Henning Mankell’s work, too! Just like Steig Larsson was, and half the world it seems is!

 

A Montreal Film Festival 2012 Moment & My Debut on Italian TV!

A Montreal 2012 Memory via Roman TV! Thank you Mariangiola Castrovilli! Who also happens to be a regular on my show for years and years! She got me in Montreal, but we missed each other in Toronto 2012!

And the name of the director I was mis-remembering was Dheeraj Akolkar, and this is his first film! And it’s also being shown in the upcoming New York Film Festival!

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Noomi Rapace ~ The Stephen Holt Show

Noomi Rapace is back in the headlines and the headlights of Hollywood stardom, full blast and full throttle, with the wondrous A-Star-Is-Re-Born reviews she’s getting for her performance in the leading role in “Prometheus“, Ridley Scott’s return to Sci-Fi, Big time.


And with this role Noomi I think forever overcomes not getting the English language version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo“. She starred in all three films of the great Swedish crime noir trilogy by the late Steig Larson. Here I am, lucky and thrilled to have the privilege of chatting with her about the last episode “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” a couple of seasons back.

I just fell in love her and was shocked by how sweet and feminine and smart and sexy she was. and totally unlike the character of Lisbeth Salander in every way imaginable. Except that they both like to take risks.Noomi with her acting and Lisbeth just with life in general.  I was hoping she was going to get an Oscar nomination for this last film, but instead she did get a BAFTA Best Actress Nod.

She also grew up part of the time in Iceland, so that’s what I was saying to her at the end “Tak. Bless.” Which is “Thank you and good-bye” in Icelandic, which she speaks as well as her native Swedish. She’s going to be the biggest Swedish acting star since Ingrid Bergman! Or before her Greta Garbo!

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