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Posts tagged ‘War Horse’

So BORED & ANGRY at “Lincoln” I was spitting nickels! Er, pennies…

I was so BORED, DISAPPOINTED & ANGRY at “Lincoln” that I was literally spitting nickels. Or in this case, pennies. Which he’s on.  “Lincoln” is everywhere these days. Opening one day after the election, it kinda sorta got included in mucho campaign overspill. Thank god Obama won, is all I can say. For many reasons. Because otherwise the Steven Spielberg self-proclaimed “masterpiece” would be DOA. Or it’s Oscar campaign would.

I’m totally down with the politics that are advocated in this movie, obviously. But to turn the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th amendment (and no, they are NOT the same thing, as this dull, dull,dull history lesson  endlessly repeats ) into a, well, …a very dull history movie, it’s just inexcusable coming from a big studio who should know better like Disney. They spent milllions on this historic creation that that did better in their Lincoln exhibit with robots in Disneyland.

And no, I do not think “Lincoln” is a slam dunk for Best Picture. A nomination, probably, but then the Academy routinely nominated both the inferior “Munich,” and also last year the schmaltzy “War Horse” but neither won anything and “Lincoln” may come up empty-handed like Spielberg’s “The Color Purple” did years ago.

Audiences are going to be very, very VERY bored with the ENDLESS talk, talk, talkiness of the over-written, under-dramatized script by Tony Kusher. Hell, the actors could barely get their lines out the language was so abstruse. And it contains a cast of 1000s. Or hundreds So many characters, each with a line or two you can barely keep them straight. Spielberg throws THE ENTIRE House of Representatives at us one bore at a time, and while that may be historically accurate…it makes for a damed boring sit.

Believe it or not, Sally Field (of all people) saves “Lincoln” from being a total disaster. As the borderline crazy Mary Todd Lincoln, his hysterical wife, Field amazingly humanizes her complexity, and makes Daniel Day-Lewis’s cigar store, animatronic,Disneyland Lincoln come alive for the few scenes she has with him.

Ditto Tom Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stephens a fiery, radical Abolitionist. Jones is just magnificent and funny and in a bad wig (that I actually LIKED on him)is just grand. He steals the picture and is able to say these complex words and phrases of Kusher’s (and some that Stephens evidently actually said himself) and makes them compelling and yes, even funny.

But Day-Lewis is more like DEAD Lewis here. It’s such a strained and restrained introverted interior performance that the camera can barely catch a glimmer in his dark,depthless eyes.

Walking and acting and sounding for all the world like WALTER BRENNAN(!?!?!) he just kills the movie with this monotonal performance. He LOOKS like Lincoln, granted, but Lincoln MUST have had a great charisma and warmth that is certainly not on display here.

And with two Oscars for Best Actor already in his pocket Day-Lewis will probably get another nomination because of his startling resemblance to the head on the penny in your pocket, but a win? It’s NOT a slam dunk.

Nobody’s seen “Les Miz” yet, but I think the field is wide open for somebody whose performance burns up the screen, like, we hope, Hugh Jackman does in “Les Miz” as Jean Valjean. Sir Anthony Hopkins as Sir Alfred Hitchcock electrified the layers of latex he had to act through in “Hitchcock.” He could win.

I’m FINALLY seeing “Silver Linings Playbook” tomorrow, so I will see if  hunk Bradley Cooper has the goods to go for the gold, but in a crowded best actor field like this, even someone as supposedly secure as Joaquim(‘The Oscars are utter bullshit”) Phoenix may not even get in. Denzel Washington is getting huzzahs for “Flight” which I also haven’t seen yet. And Jon Hawkes in an iron lung in “The Sessions”, you just CAN’T leave him out.

And with two Oscars already, and another dead Spielberg horse that he’s whipping, albeit listlessly, Day-Lewis just may not be the Academy’s cup of tea if this film tanks with audiences. The critics seem to be more partial to this History Channel really, really good episode that somehow got turned into a movie, but if it flops at the box-office…And the same goes for Sally Field. She’s got two Oscars already. And so a nomination, but not a win, and Tommy Lee Jones has one, too.

Of all of the above Jones stands the best chance, but just a few minutes ago Harvey Weinstein has announced they are running Christophe Waltz for lead in the yes, also still unseen til Christmas “Django Unchained” And THAT move is so that Best Supporting Actor is open in that movie for Leonardo DiCaprio to perhaps finally score his yet un-won Oscar as an evil Southern Plantation owner in Quentin Tarantino’s newest revenge drama.This one also set during the Civil War, and I’m sure we’ll actually SEE some African-Americans in “Django”. I counted THREE with speaking lines in “Lincoln” That’s just simply disgraceful. And Mary Todd Lincoln’s “maid” or “servant” looks like a model for Vogue. Terrible and terribly insulting to African-American woman, since she’s the only female member of that race that we see. God! This movie insulted just about EVERYbody’s intelligence!

When I finally see these remaining movies all will be revealed! Tomorrow,hopefully, has a Silver Lining with “Silver Linings Playbook.”

TIFF ads names to Supp.Oscar Race & “Lincoln” trailer sounds WRONG!

TIFF is SUCH a leveler. And always a surprise,too. Coming out of “Quartet,” one of the hottest tickets in town, was not only a VERY major Oscar chance at Best Actress for Dame Maggie Smith, but also for her supporting co-star, the other female member of the titular quartet of ex-Opera singers, Pauline Collins.

Collins dithers delightfully, and has alllll the audiences’ sympathy in the big, soon-to-be-infamous “Flower Scene” with Dame Maggie. I will say no more.It’s a massive spoiler. Once that scene happened I knew “Oscar Nomination for Pauline in Supporting.”

She’s been nominated before, too. For Best Actress, a number of years back, for “Shirley Valentine” and so she’s no stranger to Oscar.

A very solid supporting turn is done by Willliam H. Macy in “The Sessions” as a conflicted Catholic priest, who has to listen to all of the FOR SURE ROCK SOLID BEST ACTOR NOMINEE John Hawkes’ awkward sexual confesstions. It’s comic, but he’s very good (he always is) and I don’t think he’s even been nominated before. Shame, Academy, shame…Unless it was for “Fargo” many moons ago…

Jude Law in “Anna Karenina” is a shoo-in for a Supp. Actor nod, and maybe even a win, as his almost unrecognizable turn as Anna’s dull-as-paint husband Karenin. He shaved his hairline back and wears tiny little specatacles that transform his face entirely. And his performance as a stiff, repressed beaureaucrat ,who is boring  his wife Anna to tears, never bores the audience. No mean feat.

Then we have the always nominatable Phillp Seymour Hoffman, in what is really a lead, in “The Master.” The Venice Film Festival jury gave both Hoffmand and co-star Joaquin Phoenix a joint Best Actor Award.

Also finding herself in the Supporting category may be a surprised and always naked Helen Hunt, who thought she was playing a lead in “The Sessions.”Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone always points out how the Academy always awards female nudity and no one, believe me, NO ONE has ever shown so much of herself onscreen as Helen Hunt does as a sex “worker” in this terrific tearjerker about a man in an iron lung (Hawkes) who wants to finally experience sex before he dies. He does. And he does. And that’s the plot of “The Seesions.”

And from earlier in the year, before the essential TIFF-winnowing, we have both Dame Maggie Smith(yes, HER again) and her Downtown Abbey co-star Penelope Wilton in the box-office/senior citizen smash “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”both being giving campaigns from Fox Seachlight in Supporting. And so is Bill Nighy for that film.

Don’t know whether they’ve dropped Dwight Henry off their campaign roster for this excellent non-actor’s first ever performances as Qu’venzhane Wallis, dead beat dad in “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

And last but not least, let’s not overlook Michael Pena’s fine, fine work in the police actioner “End of Watch.” He could be this year’s Demian Bechir.

I happened to watch the just-dropped “Lincoln” trailer today. Once, first, without sound, and then again tonight with it. And at first I thought all those early Oscar predictions of Tom O’Neil’s crew at “Gold Derby” nevermind “The Gurus o’ Gold”‘ were right on…then WITH the sound, everybody’s voices sounded WRONG. Esp. Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln! He looks great but sounds like a baseball player! Brad Pitt in “Moneyball!”

If it looks like they’re hiding DDL in the trailer, they ARE!

Let us not forget “War Horse” and the great trailer that promised so much….and then gave us…well, not that much.

Just like “Munich”! Spielberg’s next-to-last Oscar foray.

Uh-oh!

Snoring and pretentious and over-hyped. Here we go again!

I thought we just went through this last year!

Video

Tom Hiddleston! Of “The Avengers!” Top hit-getter On You Tube!

Well, in the sense of sharing the ups and downs of my Internet existence, here’s the guy who’s #1 on my You Tube Channel right now, the great Tom Hiddleston! Who’s having the year of years with “The Deep Blue Sea”,”War Horse”, “Midnight in Paris” and the box-office blockbuster “The Avengers” in which he plays Loki, the villain!And no, I still haven’t seen it. But I’ve seen all his others this years! Love HIM! Part One of Tom at TIFF ’11.

And Part Two is Coming Soon to this blog! Stay tuned!

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!

Kim Novak – Raped by ‘The Artist’! Ad claim ~ Idiotic!

Kim Novak, a big star once upon time, was always classified as a “dumb blonde,” and now we can see why. Reported more fully by Nikki Finke & crew  at www.deadlinehollywood.com Kim took out a full-page ad in one of the trade papers, saying, provocatively, “I want to report a rape.” And now that she’s got the readers’ attention, she goes on to explain why. There was music from her Best Film (and her first) “Vertigo” used at the end of “The Artist.”

And Novak claims this constituted a “violation of her body(of work).” I beg to differ. Somebody supporting one of the “Artist”s rivals for the Oscar, where it is STILL, miraculously, the front-runner, may have put Ms. Novak up to this. Those ads in the trade papers are VERY expensive. Does she at this late stage of her life have the money for something as pricey as AN AD?!? Makes you wonder.

It’s ridiculous. Many quotes from famous movie scores are used all the time. And of course, in this semi-recent one, well, er, 1958, there are licensing fees involved being paid to the late composer Bernard Herrman’s estate for its’ use. And they are probably hefty.

Kim Novak didn’t WRITE the music. She didn’t DIRECT the movie. That was Alfred Hitchcock, who must be rolling over in his grave, with laughter, at this.

And “Artist” director Michel Hazanaviscius, who just won a nomination from the prestigious Directors’ Guild, today issued a very dignified response. And you can read this in either Deadline Hollywood, or www.hollywoodreporter.com or www.movieline.com

Over at www.awardsdaily.com, Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone, has chosen to ignore this tempest in a teacup. At least last time I looked. Sasha is more excited, TRULY excited by her favorite director David Fincher’s getting the surprise nomination from the DGA. Add to this his CINEMATOGRAPHER getting recognized by the ASC nominators this morning, Sasha must be having a VERY good day.

And yes, the cinematography of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” was sumptuous, in its’ own frozen ice-scape way.

And the Broadcast Film Critics’ Awards are TOMORROW night. Yes, dear readers, dear cineastes, it’s the beginning of the end. Of awards season. Last year, the BFCA were very predictive of the Actors’ races, but I think not so much with Best Picture.

And I’ll also add kudos to Sasha for her trumpeting of “Dragon Tattoo.” I think she really did help Fincher get that out-of-the-blue nomination from the DGA. Replacing Steven Spielberg. And now the ASC (American Society of Cinematographers), ignored “War Horse” AGAIN! “Dragon Tattoo” seems to be effectively replacing it.

And some people,myself included, thought the cinematography of “War Horse” was one of its’ strongest suits.

Guess not.

But also don’t forget the Guilds aren’t THE ACADEMY. The largish, younger DGA is not at all like the super-small, very elite, mostly male and VERY old and somewhat conservative director’s branch of the Academy, who may turn around and put Spielberg right back in the race.

Last year’s BFCA started the four-strong lock step to the Oscars that mirrored the Golden Globes acting winners and the eventual Oscar winners exactly. They got the Best Picture wrong last year. And the year before Meryl Streep TIED with Sandra Bullock, lest not forget. For “Julie and Julia” and “The Blind Side” respectively. And the year before that didn’t the same Ms. Streep tie with Anne Hathaway for “Rachel Getting Married”? Is it wrong to not predict MS might tie AGAIN this year with a younger competitor like Michelle Williams? Since the BFCA does historically seem to be all tied up with its’ Best Actresses?

This year all the categories, except Best Supporting Actor, Christopher Plummer, are up in the air. Which is going to make for a VERY interesting evening!

Oscar confusion as Xmas B.O. disappoints, but “War Horse” is still good to go…

Dear Readers, dear cineastes, I hate to be waving you off into the New Year with disappointing, confusing news…But it does look like the Grinch stole some Oscar hopefuls Christmas this year.

First, you can cross off “Extemely Loud and Incredibly Close” right off your Oscar must-see list right now. If you even had it on there in the first place. It was STRANGE how Warner Bros. held it to the last minute so that even the two New York based award-giving organizaations the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review could not even SEE it before the voted. So they didn’t.

And why? Because they probably wouldn’t’ve anyway. It’s distasteful in the Extreme in its’ depiction of the tragedy of 9/11 turning it into a Lifetime Movie Special. Ugh. It’s even worse than “The Iron Lady”. Which is a shoe that doesn’t drop until tomorrow, Dec.30.

So that the Vanity Fair cover and the Kennedy Center honors, etc. for Meryl Streep could all be for naught. WHEN IT’S REVIEWED. I know the Twin Towers weren’t BOMBed, per se. But these two films sure are bombs. The only explosions will be the bile that is unleased when the critics finally get a chance to review it/them/her.

So IOW “Extremely Loud…” is not only extremely bad, it’s being withheld from those from the NYFCC and the NBR was nothing more than a publicity stunt, in retrospect. It seems. Or one that back-fired, in any case.

So that means NO OSCAR nods for anybody in ELAIC(the useful web abbreviation), and it’s doubtful that “The Iron Lady” will grab anything except a nod of Meryl. But the baaaad reviews “The Iron Lady” is going to get may torpedo her purported Oscar front-runner status.

Also surprising to me, is the disappointing (in industry terms) Box Office of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It only made $27 million this holiday period, when it should’ve been closer to $50 million, or so thought Sony.

Anne Thompson, whom I often call St. Anne, (because she is) RRRREALLLY lays it all out VERY clearly in a great, great piece in www.indiewire.com She’s Thompson on Hollywood, and she certainly spells out the reasons why “Dragon Tattoo” is only doing so-so business.

And this is DEATH in terms of Oscar voters, who are getting their ballots as of TODAY, and in terms of Rooney Mara’s Oscar chances. She’s NOT going to rock the lock on The Five Locked and Loaded Ladies. Meryl(yes, even despite the bad press, she’s inevitably going to get. It’s a default nomination. They will ALWAYS nominate her, but she’ll never win.) Glenn Close, Tilda Swinton and the favorites Michelle Williams and Viola Davis.

It’s particularly good news for Michelle Williams, because this means that she’s the youngest and hottest BABE in competish. All the other ladies are over 44. See last year’s Babe-win. Natalie Portman v. Annette Bening, and we all know how that turned out.

More bad news for Viola Davis. She’s one of the LEADS in “Extremely Bad…” Yes, she is, though no one is blaming the failure of the film on HER. But her performance is just OK. It’s good. But not THAT good.

Me? I put “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” on my year’s ten best list I liked it so much. And the kicker is ANNE THOMPSON LIKED IT, TOO! So for her to write such an objective, strong piece about it’s Box-Office is something that attention must be paid to…

Along with the fact that the only one of the Big Last Three films of the year (ELAIC, TGWTDT and “War Horse”) the one with the Horse as the star did JUST FINE. And it, too, ended up on my Year’s Ten Best List. It’s Number 10, but still…IT’S ON THERE.

And with “TinTin” also disappointing at the B.O.( I found it unwatchable and dull, dull, dull) the fact that “The War Horse” got through the Christmas War is nothing short of miraculous. But then they call Joey “The Miracle Horse” in the movie…

So if you check out S.T.Vanairsdale’s always excellent (and accurate) Oscar Index at www.movieline.com and also see what Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone at www.awardsdaily.com says about “War Horse”s strong weekend, you’ll see that they, anyway, think that the HORSE has just galloped back into The Race.

So that leaves us with “The Artist” now perhaps unofficially at any rate versus “War Horse.” And two more different films you couldn’t imagine!

Next up, the Broadcast Film Critics Awards which are more predictive recently than almost anything else. So hold on, Oscar-ers and Oscar-ettes, it’s going to be a bumpy ride! WHOA NELLY!

Top Ten Films of 2011

Dear Readers, dear cineastes, here it is! At long last! Just what the world has been waiting for! ANOTHER top ten film list! Soon also to be seen on my YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

Where suddenly “The Artist” has surged to take the #1 spot on my Channel’s Top Ten List.

Not to be confused with my Year’s Ten Best list, which starts here –

1. MY WEEK WITH MARILYN

2.MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

3. THE ARTIST

4. MACHINE GUN PREACHER

5. J. EDGAR

6. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

7. ALBERT NOBBS

8. DEVIL’S DOUBLE

9. DRIVE

10. WAR HORSE

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