a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Up in the Air’

Oscar Apple Cart Upset by Late-Breaking “Into The Woods?

Into the Woods 1Stephen Sondheim and movies of his work have never really clicked with the public. See Elizabeth Taylor in “A Little Night Music”, and of course, more recently “Sweeney Todd” with Johnny Depp. But Musicals are catnip to the Academy.

Depp is back again as the Big Bad Wolf whose  nemesis is Little Red Riding Hood, a very lethal Little Red Riding Hood. But the word from the screenings yesterday is that Meryl Streep is once again going to be back at the Dolby Pavillion for something like her 20th nomination. But which category will she be in? Could she win? She’s got three Oscars already.

The always excellent Emily Blunt has the Baker’s Wife role in the film and that’s the part that has historically won awards. Joanna Gleeson on Broadway won a Tony for Best Actress.  And pert, pretty Anna Kendrick is getting good  W.O.M.(word of mouth) as Cinderella. A former Oscar nominee for Best Supporting Actress for “Up In The Air” could she also be up again of her sparkling Cinderella?

And where does that put Meryl’s Wicked Witch? The Academy put her in lead last year for “August:Osage County” when many thought she’d be Supporting and Julia Roberts would be lead, but the categories were reversed.

That could happen to Emily Blunt, too. And she and Anna Kendrick could be up against the here-to-fore unstoppable Patricia Arquette in “Boyhood.” Would they knock her out of the leading contender spot? In Supporting.

Meryl’s Witch certainly could. The plot sickens.

 

Post-TIFF ~ SUDDENLY, So many predictions about “Silver Linings”! But TIFF isn’t the Academy, folks!

TIFF only ended on Sunday, but it’s Oscar after-effects ripple on. The announcement that “Silver Linings Playbook” won the prestigious People’s Choice Award sent Oscar pundits and Oscarologists  (is there any difference?) running for the hills. And ALLLL of them suddenly putting “SLP” in their #1 position, when this was hardly the case way back when, say, on SATURDAY!

The Oscar pick’em race turns on a dime, and it certainly just did. AND NOBODY was predicting Jennifer Lawrence would win Best Actress “out front by a mile” as Tom O’Neill put it in two podcasts ~ one which he did with Sasha Stone and Jeffrey Wells, who barely let him, the Granddaddy of all Oscar prognosticators barely get a word in edgewise! No really! But Tom was very good-humored about it.

He, who did not even get to TIFF this year. Sasha has never been. And of course, Jeff Wells was VERY MUCH there.As you’ll see when my terrific interview with him comes out shortly at http://www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow.

Sasha, of course, is at http://www.awardsdaily.com and Jeffrey holds forth at http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com

Jeff fell, as I did, and fell HARD, for “Anna Karenina”, and he was outraged, just outraged, as I was too, and still am, by Manohla Dargis’s dismissal of “Anna Karenina” as “a travesty,” and she also calls the divine Keira Knightley’s great performance “miscast. ” and what is soooo galling is that this is in the NYTIMES! Jeff was hopping mad about this. APOPLECTIC! and I am, too! So much so he barely let poor SASHA even get a word in on her own podcast!

Conversely, Tom O’Neil and Pete Hammond barely discussed Keira Knightley’s performance or “Anna Karenina” at ALL! THEY were all about Jennifer Lawrence although Pete Hammond cautioned “It’s early yet.” They can be found at http://www.goldderby.com

All I can think of is the year when “Sideways” won the People’s Choice Award at Toronto, too. It got a lot of nominations, but it lost Best Picture. I’m also thinking of George Clooney’s starrer “Up in the Air” and also just this year’s past “The Descendants” both Toronto Hits, though not People’s Choice winners.

They were, however, raved and raved and raved about out of Toronto and all season long, and then…The Air Went Out. Of Both Of Them. Almost like clockwork. And George was certainly being championed as Best Actor, too. And both times, it didn’t happen. Last year, the Little Golden Guy went to Jean Dujardin for “The Artist.” Face it, George, you’re just never going to win Oscar #2.

Interestingly, “The Artist” was also at TIFF(and at Montreal AND at the New York Film Festival) but didn’t win the People’s Choice Award, or even come in second. But of course, it did win the Oscar.

And as Harvey W. would say regarding the Academy Voters “These are the ones that count.” So just because some film has won big in Toronto, doesn’t mean it’s also going to be embraced by the Academy. Oh no. Not by a long shot.

And Jennifer Lawrence? Well, I haven’t yet seen “Silver Lining’s Playbook,” but I’m not a fan. Her flat performance in “X-Men” coupled with her execrable under-acting(non-acting to me) Academy Nominated turn(she barely moved) in “Winter’s Bone” turned me off her in a very big way. I didn’t even bother to go to see “The Hunger Games” because she was starring in it.

Bland, bland, bland. Flat and bland. Curvaceous, attractive by any and all Old Hollywood or even New Hollywood standards, to be sure. She’s pretty. Ok. I’ll give her that. But I have yet to see her be anything other than sub-par. Jennifer, I’m waiting.*sounds of my foot tapping*

But with all these critical hurrahs she’s now receiving, I guess, in the case of “Silver Linings Playbook”, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt. I certainly am looking forward to seeing it and seeing what all this fuss was SUDDENLY about.

I was certainly tracking the Best Actress contenders in earnest at Toronto. I got up at 5:30 AM to make a 8:45am screening of Marion Cotillard in “Rust and Bone” and the  otherworldly, magnifique Marion did not disappoint my Best Efforts.. Neither did the lovely,understated, shy mouse of Laura Linney in “Hyde Park on the Hudson”, or Helen Hunt, the VERY naked and full frontal sex surrogate  in “The Sessions,” the sublime,tormented  Keira Knightley as “Anna Karenina,” and last but not least, Dame Maggie Smith’s all out Oscar-bait turn as an aging Opera Diva in “Quartet.”

Not ONE person in Toronto. NOT ONE, mentioned to me I should see Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook’! NOT ONE! And I was listening…In fact nobody recommended “Silver Linings Playbook” to me at all. NO BODY! And then, BAM, out of nowhere this award! And then all these predictions! On Saturday…nobody was predicting her.

As Laura Linney said to me about all this Oscar madness “I take them with a grain of salt. You have to.”

I think all of this took the Weinstein Co. by surprise, too. During TIFF the #1 film was “The Master” Remember “The Master”? THAT’S what they were pushing, NOT “Silver Linings Playbook.” Now “The Master” is a SUDDEN #3, behind “SLP” and “Argo.”

And on the other side of the gender divide ~Is it Joaquim Phoenix in “The Master” or is it Daniel Day Lewis in “Lincoln”, or is it the much more sympathetic John Hawkes in “The Sessions”? I think the jury is really out on that category and you all KNOW how the Academy relates to Comedies, which the “Silver Linings Playbook” seems to be.

I’ll let you know MY take on all this as soon as I see the remaining films. You can’t write the story of 2012 when Oscar seekers like “Les Miserables”, “Lincoln”, “Zero Dark Thirty””Django Unchained” and “The Hobbit” are all still unseen.

In that case, the person I feel most in agreement with is Pete Hammond of http://www.deadline.com !

It’s not over until the Fat Lady(or in the case of Dame Maggie Smith in “Quartet”) the Thin Lady Sings!

Oscar to go E-lectronic ONLINE Voting! Chaos? Progress? The End?

With the shocking announcement the very day AFTER the Academy’s Big Reveal of their 2011 Nominations, AMPAS has sent out a statement saying that is it going digital at last =  the last bastion of postal snail mail, Oscar voting, going the way of the Do-Do. Scary stuff. Some Academy Members are not even ONLINE. Some don’t even OWN a computer, nor want to. I’m not kiddin’. You can’t make this stuff up!

But you know what the Do-Do said to Alice, don’t you? “Everyone has won, and ALL shall have prizes!”

Guess so.

Which I, a victim of technology, as much as Jean Dujardin’s character in “The Artist”, see this as just an INVITATION to the hacker-sphere to “Come ‘n’ git it!”

What if the Oscar results got hacked? And you know THEY WILL…

I’m a Voting Member of the Drama Desk and yes, we all have to vote e-lectronically, but there’s still the OPTION to mail your ballot in. But it seems everybody does use the Internet. Does this mean Theater Critics are hipper than the Hollywood Academy? It would seem so.

You can read the actual press releases themselves at www.deadlinehollywood.com and Steve Pond’s great www.thewrap.com.

This will also herald an earlier Oscar night. Maybe as early as late January or early February. The E-balloting would be instated to MOVE THINGS up, and make things FASTER, voting and tallying-wise.

But it’s progress. They can’t avoid it. But it’s going to wreak havoc on an already crowded awards-season year-end calendar, which OF COURSE, will cause the BFCA, The Golden Globes, this Sunday night’s SAG awards and yes, even the BAFTAs to move THEIR Awards extravaganzas up, too. OF COURSE! D’oh!

Which means that films will have to move up their unseemly December glut to November? Well, that could easily be done. This year’s, 2012, I mean, films will all have to just get finished earlier. Heard THAT Mr. Spielberg?

He’s got Daniel Day Lewis’ BIG OSCAR contender of next year”Lincoln” on the boil…He’ll just have to finish it faster. And he COULD do that. For this announcement to come out THIS EARLY, it’s letting those who are preparing next years extravaganzas to SPEED IT UP! It’s doable.

For example, “War Horse” was more than ready and being screened all over the country, but god forbid not in L.A. and New York, where we, the huddled media masses could see it.

And he DID get nominated. But not THAT much. (He didn’t get nominated for Best Director. Though it did get Best Picture. But like “Hugo” none of his actors got nominated.) He went from being a front-runner, to being, well, just a runner. It’s being held back til Christmas Day did diminish its’ Oscar chances.

You could argue that holding “Dragon Tattoo” back til the last-minute on Xmas day, also, hurt its Best Picture chances. But you could also argue that it never had any chance at BP (Best Picture, not Brad Pitt) to begin with. It’s a genre film to quote Anne Thompson of www.indiewire.com

Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone of www.awardsdaily.com  called it “re-arranging deck chairs on the ‘Titanic!’ “

Being accused of looking backwards this year, these pronunciamentos from AMPAS feel like Papal Nuncios. “No! You see! We aren’t looking backwards. We’re looking FORwards!”

But really, is it going to mean anything, except that voters will have to watch more films SOONER? Which means that Voters will inevitably watch LESS films than they even do now.

You better believe it! And that hurts the smaller fringe films. I’m pretty sure they didn’t even WATCH “We’ve Got to Talk About Kevin,” “Shame” and also probably, “Drive.”

I swear that Albert Brooks in “Drive” and Vanessa Redgrave in “Coriolanus” both lost out on being nominated this year on BOTH sides of the Atlantic, because voters just didn’t watch EITHER of their films.

They got turned off in the first 30-40 minutes by the violence and didn’t stay to see Brooks’ and Redgrave’s great, villainous performances, which really kicked in LATER in both films.

AMPAS voters, and probably SAG voters, too, certainly are just OVERWHELMED by the amount of films they have to watch on their DVD players, and that is the way most of them do see these films. The super 3d of “Hugo” loses a lot in 2D on anything but the most sophisticated home players. for instance.

Whereas films with a smaller TV-friendly aspect ratio, like “The Artist” look even BETTER! “The Descendants” would gain on the small screen, too. AND “The Help” AND “Midnight in Paris.”

This will make late summer/early Fall Film Festivals Toronto,Montreal, Venice, New York, even MORE important than they’ve always been.

Because now people like Jason Reitman, who held his “Young Adult,” back from TIFF & NYFF, lived to see his film wither and die outside the Festival circuit.  And now he’ll have to go running back to Toronto, where OF COURSE, they’ll take him back. Like the prodigal son that he is, if only for a nano-seceond. In this scenario, his film of LAST year “Up In the Air” which was accused of “peaking too early” would never have had the chance for that to happen to it. There would’ve been NO TIME! Ditto “The Joy of Typing.”

It will mean that film critics like myself will have VERY busy Novembers instead of Decembers.

And what WILL Harvey Weinstein do?

Well, since he’s always busy ANYway, this new roundelay of “change” may make things even EASIER for him. Certainly more refreshing.

But come what may, this is what is on the way, dear readers, dear cineastes. Change! The Computers are taking over EVERYTHING!

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