a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Tom O’Neil’

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!

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Oscars 2016 ~ Is Cate Blanchett Turning Into Meryl Streep?

Stepmother 1At first when I saw “Cinderella,” which I just loved, btw, I wondered whether the superb performances by the two leading ladies, Lily James(“Downton Abbey”s Rose) and Cate Blanchett as the not-so-Wicked-but-merely-troubled-and-lonely Stepmother, would even be considered for this year’s Oscar race. I now think that two-time Oscar Winner Blanchett for Best Supporting Actress is definitely a possibilty for a nomination. I think she’s becoming the New Meryl Streep, and will get nominated for her usually outstanding work in almost anything she does, even Disney fairy tale extravaganzas. So the precedent has been set. At least in the Supporting Actress category.

I mean, look, if Meryl Streep can get nominated for playing a Witch in “Into the Woods”, her astounding 19th nomination! Then Blanchett certainly could for another fairy tale character.

Sasha Stone of http://www.awardsdaily.com says her most-looked-forward-to film of 2016 is the upcoming Todd Haynes “Carol” which is the lesbian love drama based on Patricia Highsmith’s “The Price of Salt.” And yes, Blanchett is the lead in “Carol.” So theoretically, she could get TWO nominations this year. Bringing her net total so far to six, with two wins.

And considering, as Sasha points out, this is another bleak year ahead for roles for actresses, Cate Blanchett very well pull off this double-nominated hat-trick.

And on the male side, I personally think it’s Eddie Redmayne by a mile for Tom Hopper’s “The Danish Girl” opening now Nov.26, right in the heat and heart of the Oscar season.

Eddie LiliCould Eddie Redmayne do a Tom Hanks(as they say) and pull off two Best Actor wins in a row? He sure could.

Could he beat out Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant”? And get two Oscars while Leo wasn’t won one yet? Yup.

As Oscar Grand-daddy Tom O’Neil is always pointing out in his Slugfests “They sometimes like to give you two.” O’Neill, of course, is at http://www.goldderby.com

Witness Luise Rainer, Spencer Tracy, Olivia de Havilland, Hanks, Kevin Spacey and Sally Fields…and more. Streep has three. Jack Nicholson has three…

Sometimes what is going to happen at the Oscars is SOOO clear. Even at this distance…

 

Is “Birdman” Surging or Is It Oscar Hooey?

Birdman 1Is “Birdman” really experiencing a last-minute surge or is it all just Oscar hooey? Put out mainly by the hugest “Birdman” supporter of all, Jeff Wells at http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com. If you read him, and I do, daily, he’s a terrific writer, even if I don’t agree with him half the time, you’d think it’s “Birdman,Birdman,Birdman” all the way. But I wonder…

He and the greatest, most obsessed Oscar prognosticator of  them all Tom O’Neil at http://www.goldderby.com  have a very interesting phone chat they’d turned into a pod-cast, and it’s worth listening to.

Especially when JW reluctantly agrees that it’s Eddie Redmayne for Best Actor and not Michael Keaton. TON feels it’s now “Birdman”s to lose. Both Oscarologists function from deep in the heart of Hollywood as presumably they are hearing more than I do here on the East Coast. But here, I hear, it’s still “Boyhood.”

Their podcast is very interesting to hear the dynamic between the two men. They both are very respectful of each other. Tom more so than with any one else he’s podcasted with. And Jeffrey is much more tentative, nicer, in person, as I know him to be. He’s been a guest on my show. And Tom I’ve met many times at Oscar parties here in NYC.

Jeff’s writings on Hwd are fierce, fiery, bracing blasts of vitriol. And they’re so well written, you find yourself just agreeing with him, even when you don’t, because of the power of his angry missives.

But Tom, especially, I thought was less secure in his predicting “Birdman.” I was surprised. He even admits as much in the conversation.  So it STILL could be “Boyhood” despite “Birdman”s winning the PGA, DGA and SAG. But it LOST the Golden Globe for Best Comedy/Musical to “Grand Budapest Hotel” and it lost the BAFTA to “Boyhood.” Stats not to be trifled with. And it didn’t get nominated for Best Film Editing, which it seems you HAVE to have to win.

It’s been “Boyhood” for so long, that people think that’s it’s won already. The voting for the Oscars of 2015 closes FINALLY tomorrow. This has seemed like a particularly long year.

Well, “Whiplash” opened at Sundance last year last January and so did “Boyhood.” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” opened right around NOW last year, too. So we’ve been living with these films for a LONG time. “Oscar Island” as Sasha Stone calls it.

Even SHE is thinking that’s it’s both “Birdman” for Best Picture and also it’s director Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu for Best Director. And that if that’s the case “Boyhood” just gets Best Supporting Actress, for Patricia Arquette.

I can’t wait til this whole things draws to a close. I can’t believe I’m saying that I’m tired of Oscar season. But this year I really am.

But I’ll be live-blogging it anyway. As far as I know. Stay tuned.

“American Sniper” Sound & Fury Signifying It Will Win Both Sound Oscars

Here I go again, cut and pasting a reply to yet ANOTHER tumultuous, magnificently written piece on “American Sniper”s chances now that it’s become Ben-Hur. Read, by all means, what Sasha Stone has to say at http://www.awardsdaily.com. She’s been doing this day after day. I don’t know how she does it, but she does it. She’s one of our great writers. She sets the bar so high, and then keeps raising it!Younger EddieBradley Cooper 2

And here is what I said in my reply to this hot button topic ~(PS: I was in a bus crash today, which I wrote about but didn’t get posted in this section. Don’t know how to move it to here. Tech-tarded still. After all these years.)

“ANOTHER brilliant, impassioned piece of writing from Sasha, analyzing this past weekend’s rather astounding events at the box-office.

Sasha hasn’t dragged politics in to this year’s Oscar race, the movies themselves have, like it or not.

Tom O’Neill was raving about “American Sniper” on Entertainment Tonight for “livening up the Oscar race.” It DID look pretty boring and predictable, more so than ever, with Moore, Arquette and Simmons having all their categories, Best Actress and the two Supporting categories laid down in Grauman’s Chinese cement already.

But now comes “American Sniper” and SUDDENLY there’s actually something to DEBATE about. Something to write about for the blogosphere. But they are not Academy voters.

The Academy still has many members who DON’T EVEN HAVE A COMPUTER!?!? But are too ashamed to admit it, and the average age is 80 or 85. Not 62. As they are saying. Just attend an actual academy screening and the number of walkers and wheelchairs lined up at the back is staggering.

That said, “AS” doesn’t have a chance with the Left-leaning Academy. R U kidding me? It will never win Best Picture. They will think. “It’s gotten the $. It doesn’t need the awards” but it just might get something. Like the two sound awards! Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing.

Now, as far as Best Actor, if the sudden attention being paid to Bradley Cooper, translates into actual votes(and I wonder about that), it’s Michael Keaton who gets hurt by this. And the people who were going to vote for Eddie Redmayne are still going to vote for Eddie Redmayne.

He’s playing a heroic, triumphant character, a real person, a genius, Stephen Hawking, who’s ALIVE. IN SPITE OF EVERYTHING.And he’s playing a CHARACTER. Not himself, or a version of himself as Michael Keaton is doing in “Birdman.”

Bradley Cooper may win an Oscar some day, but no GG, SAG, etc. percursor love, kills his chances but allows him to take “steak eater” votes away from Keaton. Everybody knows he’s going to get a Tony for Best Actor this year for “Elephant Man” on Broadway, and every other award, too. They’ll let that be enough for him for this year. And vote for Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything.”

And watch out for “Grand Budapest”! It could win the SAG Ensemble this Sunday and then everything will be up for grabs! Topsy-Turvy!”

Oscar Site Gold Derby Now Decides Category Placement!

Oscar HeadlessJust where do I think everything is today as the end of October, always a crucial month for Oscar, is less than two weeks away.

I have a lot of questions and there are some clear answers.

Both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories are all but sewn up at the moment. The winner, I mean, or the Front-Runner, always a deadly term, especially in the Best Picture category. Best Actor or Actress and especially in Supporting don’t suffer the fate the leader of the pack in Best Picture does. Different rules apply.

Julianne Moore for “Still Alice” and Patricia Arquette for “Boyhood” seem to have locked down their Oscars already.

There was a lot of category shifting, a few weeks back(when I didn’t have Internet access to comment more swiftly on it) for the wonderful, under-appreciated Arquette. She could’ve been in Best Actress, but, and this is another thing that has changed this year, methinks, GoldDerby.com and its’ experts(Tom O, why O why am I not one?) decided that Supporting was where Patricia dominated their charts, and so IFC, the distributor of “Boyhood”, dutifully put Arquette in the lesser race. Why? Because Gold Derby said so! A few weeks back.

Now, this IS a change. Tom O’Neil’s http://www.goldderby.com has always been exhaustively covering the Oscars. But never, before, I think, EVER (and people will remind me if this isn’t so) NEVER have they LED the race so clearly as they have with placing Patricia Arquette in Supporting Actress for “Boyhood”. And whatever I thought of the movie(too long, couldn’t relate to the kid) I LOVED Arquette’s soulful 12 year journey as the Boy in questions mother. The good Mom, always an Academy favorite.The Earth Mother, who’s trying her best to do her best.

And I think that’s the biggest award “Boyhood” is going to get from the Academy. MAYbe Original screenplay. But not a lot else. More nominations for sure. Like Ethan Hawke also in Supporting for his best-ever turn as the deadbeat-dad-with-a-heart-of-gold.

But I don’t think Gold Derby is really deciding the other races, but its’ putting Arquette where she is for sure now going to land, is a first, I think. Making Gold Derby essential reading. The other categories there are all not so clear at all. Take a look. They’re confused and confusing. Up and down. In and Out. Well, Tom styles it as a horse race, a derby, and he’s right. That’s exactly what the Oscar Race, which he always calls “the Derby” is, when you boil it all down.

A lot is still up in the air. Although they have got Julianne Moore in their #1 spot, and I think that’s right. Right now anyway. Until Harvey Weinstein potentially dynamites J-Moo’s rock-solid position for “Still Alice,” which I truly loved BTW with his Amy Adams starrer “Big Eyes,” which opens in late December.Is that going to be too late now that the deserving Julianne has gotten so strong? Perhaps. Maybe Harvey will move the Opening of “Big Eyes” up. If he does, watch out!

I thought Julianne wouldn’t have a prayer after I saw “Maps to the Stars” deflate right in front of my eyes at the Toronto Film Festival. In that she plays a VERY unsympathetic, aging actress, and the film is pretty much a mess. But SHE’S great! And she won Best Actress at Cannes.

But “Still Alice” is a lovely,searing film about an important issue, early on-set Alzheimer’s, and Moore is simply astounding as she goes through every startling, debilitating change of the disease. From A to Z and back again. Moore’s work in “Still Alice” makes Julie Christie’s a few years back on a similar topic in “Away From Her” look like a doodle. A mere sketch. Marion Cotillard won that year for her tour-de-force as Edith Piaf in “La Vie En Rose”.

And though there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, hence no requisite happy ending,  it’s a supremely graceful film, and the ending is appropriately in tune with the serious subject matter. And you have to applaud the filmmakers Wash Westmoreland and his partner Richard Glatzer for telling this difficult story right. They’ve even gotten Alec Baldwn to be sympathetic, too, as the do-the-right-thing hubby. Alec Baldwin warm and fuzzy? Will wonders never since?!?. Kristen Stewart shines, too, in a change of pace role for her as Moore’s quarrelsome actress daughter.

I thought, as you know, Rosamund Pike, was a category leader in Best Actress for my immensely liked “Gone Girl”, but then I saw Moore seal the deal in “Still Alice”. She’s admitting to being 50 and she soars. And this performance,plus her challenging, all -out vain-to-the-max actress in “Maps to the Stars” and her Cannes win, all add up to Oscar in my book, and I think the Academy’s, too.

While others are rushing to judgment, I personally feel the other categories, Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor are all over the place right now, and the rest of the remaining unseen films need to be seen. They may figure heavily this year. Especially in Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor. I don’t think we’ve seen the winners there yet. But it’s vague, to me, for sure.There’s a lot of variables and a lot of bloody contests to be fought still. And it’s only OCTOBER! Wait til November when the Oscar combatants’ gloves REALLY come off. And oh yes, “The Theory of Everything” finally opens!

But I guess what I’m trying to say is, Gold Derby has now become more important than ever this year . So go there and enjoy the podcasts and predictions and videos. I do. And I think Academy members and for sure the films’ publicists do,too.

Oscars Ups and Downs~ Upsom Downs? Sounds like a Racetrack!

Oscars Ups and Downs~ Upsom Downs? Sounds like a Racetrack!

So much is SOOOO close this year! One vote could make the difference, but I’m happy to see that for all of the supposed heat for “Gravity” and “American Hustle” that “12 Years A Slave” still sits atop the charts at http://www.goldderby.com. for Best Picture by a wide margin. And it’s been that way for a while. And Chiwetel Ejiofor is also now pulling way ahead of Robert Redford, whose boat seems to be sinking fast. They didn’t even send out screeners for “All Is Lost” to the SAG membership.

And Lupita Nyong’O”12 Years” and Cate Blanchett”Blue Jasmine” both sit at the top of their Supp.Actress and Best Actress categories. Tom O’Neil, the head of Gold Derby, keeps countering and denying “12 Years a Slave” constant full-on ascent. He does a particularly entertaining and funny “smack-down” Podcast with Theater Talks’ Michael Musto, who is predicting a “12 Years” sweep, and doesn’t back down. Tom O. finally says “A film directed by a Black man(Steve McQueen, in this case) has never won,” he finally admits and Michael just says coolly, “In a year of great African-American filmmaking, “The Butler”, “Fruitvale Station” as well as “12 Years a Slave” and with Obama in the White House,don’t you think it’s about time? In fact, it’s the perfect time.”

And O’Neil admits “Maybe I have blinders on.” And Musto says “Yes.” You can hear this historic(hysteric) bout of the champions, of course, as always at http://www.goldderby.com.

Also “12 Years a Slave” sits atop the Gurus o’ Gold(of which I used to be one) at http://www.moviecitynews.com

Sounds like a consensus to me. And it was also nominated yesterday by the Producer’s Guild. Later today the Writer’s Guild announces their nominees but “12 Years a Slave” great adapted script by John Ridley isn’t eligible for some arcane reason, so don’t take the WGA as any accurate Oscar barometer.

And Tuesday we have the DGA, which OF COURSE, will nominate McQueen. And then Thursday, the BAFTAS, which will nominate the daylights out of “12 YAS”, McQueen & Ejiofor are British and Michael Fassbender is Irish. So I expect “12YAS” to lead the nominations there. And the following Tuesday, we have the Oscar nominations announced and the Broadcast Film Critics the same evening. Where “12YAS” has the most nominations for any film. It’s in a false-tie with “American Hustle”, ,but they’ve piled up the “Comedy Actor” and “Comedy Actress” Awards, so I don’t really count those as legitimate.

And Jared Leto, for playing Rayon, a sweet transvestite in “Dallas Buyers Club” keeps sweeping up all the awards in the Best Supp. Actor category. Strange but true.

New York had one heck of a snowstorm last night. And today it’s FREEEEZING, but the snow has stopped. I have to go out to see a show tonight, the rarely performed Gilbert and Sullivan operetta “Patience” which was their satire of Oscar Wilde. It’s WAAAAY uptown at the Symphony Space. Hope I can get there with all the snow on the ground.

Oscar Best Picture Race~Is It Really Down to Three?

New York’s just had its’ first major snowfall, Christmas is around the corner, and can the Oscar race for Best Picture be just down to three films already?

To judge by the major Oscar websites, it already seems a done deal. With “12 Years a Slave”, “Gravity” and unbelievably “American Hustle” being judged the only three that could. Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone has another great “State of the Race” piece and she sees it this way at http://www.Awardsdaily.com and so does Tom O’Neil at http://www.goldderby.com

But interestingly though they came to the same conclusions about THE THREE. Sasha has “12 Years a Slave” is on top, and Tom O. is sticking to “Gravity.” Me? I’m on Sasha’s side. And I hope that’s the way it plays out.

I saw “12 Years a Slave” for the THIRD time last night, and was bowled over by it all over again. It’s beauty.It’s musical score by Hans Zimmer. The cinematography, director Steve McQueen’s expert use of his large cast. There’s not a weak one among the vast ensemble. And the writing is so good! And it’s a true story!John Ridley is the screenwriting, based of course on the now best-selling book by Soloman Northrup. First published in 1856.

And Lupito Nyong’O and Chiwetel Ejiafor broke my heart all over again.

I can’t even imagine sitting through “American Hustle” Three times. Maybe to figure out its’ dense con artist plot within a plot within a plot. But not even Jennifer Lawrence’s hilarious mob wife would get me back a second time. There’s not enough hours left in my life.

“American Hustle” benefits greatly from being the new kid on the block as it were. “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity” have been going strong since Toronto Film Festival, which is where I saw the both of them. And that’s a problem, too. Keeping the momentum going this long. Both Fox Searchlight and also Warner’s have that as a task they must fulfill.

I just  got a press release that it’s going to be re-released, though I just saw it for the third time, as I’ve said, last night. It’s made $35 million, which is no small amount of Oscar change. And the nominations are only now about to be mailed out to the membership.And of course, those all important DVD screeners.

Seeing movies on the big screen is the only way, really, to see these important films, IMHO. I saw “Her” tonight. Cute. With a small “c”. But with so many films these days being so dark and so tragic, “Her” is really a sweet, sweet love story…about a man(Joaquim Phoenix) who falls in love with his Ciri-like Operating System, voiced magnificently by the totally unseen Scarlett Johansson. It gains by comparison. It aims to be GENTLE. And it refreshingly is.

It’s a futuristic love story, but that’s all it is. Filmed in Beijing, it looks like it really HAS been shot in the future, too.

In any other year, Joaquim Phoenix’s kindly, lost, dweeb Twombly would be in the best actor race. Most of the film is ONLY shots of his face. I didn’t know if it would sustain, if he’d be that riveting, but newsflash, he is. TOTALLY different from his disturbed loner Freddie Quell from last year’s “The Master” which, yes, indeed he WAS nominated for Best Actor for. But this year Best Actor is so crowded, he hasn’t a chance to get in.

He hasn’t turned up in any of the precursor critics awards. And neither, strangely has Tom Hanks for “Saving Mr. Banks”. His Disney on Disney performance is not going down or turning up anywhere.  At least not yet.. NOBODY nominated him for this Supporting turn, whereas they ALLLLL nominated him for “Captain Phillips” as Best Lead Actor and they’ve nominated Somali newcomer Barkhad Abdi in all three major races, too. For Best Supporting Actor.

He and Daniel Bruhl  of “Rush”as well have been nominated for the SAG Award, the Golden Globe award and also the Critics choice awards, something NOBODY could have seen coming, but yet, there they are. They made the golden trifecta that you NEED to get to be nominated for an Oscar.

Oprah was left out of the Golden Globes in Best Supp. Actress for “The Butler”. So does that make her vulnerable? Or just simply unpopular with the Hollywood Foreign Press?

And Robert Redford not being nominated for a SAG award for Best Actor for “All Is Lost” is still the most shocking snub. And it WAS nominated for Best Stunt Ensemble, which is really crazy weird because HE IS the Ensemble, in this one person movie.

That, yes, can be seen as merely stunt work.And it IS incredible stunt work. For a 77-year-old man to be doing all that running (around his sinking yacht), climbing the mast, swimming with sharks…well, he’s certainly in good shape for his age. And his agility is amazing. But is that great acting? Well…

It’s also  almost totally silent.

He says one word and one word only “FUCK!!!!!” when he begins to finally sense the utter desolation of his desperate situation. IF ONLY THAT WEREN’T HIS ONLY WORD…And I thought, “Well, he’s lost the Oscar. Right there.”

In this tough field, he’ll be lucky to be nominated. And he’s not actively campaigning as the other 77-year-old in the race for Best Actor is, Bruce Dern, for “Nebraska”. He’s everywhere. In L.A. Guess he’ll be showing up in New York to pick up his National Board of Review award for Best Actor. He won that, Bruce did. And he also triumphed at the L.A. Film Critics.
But neither of them are going to win against “12 Years a Slave”s majestic powerhouse Chiwetel Ejiafor.

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