a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Winter’s Bone’

Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone Stands Up & Cheers for Ann Dowd in “Compliance”! Best Actress Race Changes!

I really think that the terrific piece Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone just wrote about the incredible Ann Dowd’s Oscar chances in “Compliance’ really will be effective in changing the Best Actress Race this year and will help the amaaaaazing Ms. Dowd along her lonnnnng way to the Dolby Pavillion in February. Read it at http://www.awardsdaily.com.

Sasha out-does herself once again with the power of her great, impassioned writing. And this time, I can but totally agree. Sasha has been very effective helping Indie actresses move ahead to nominations, if not wins. She really went all out for Melissa Leo back in the days of “Frozen River” which was really going out on a ledge at a time, when Melissa Leo was a virtual Oscar unknown, and voila! She WAS nominated for Best Actress, much to my great surprise….That is, until i saw the film, which was after the nominations came out and I saw how brrrrrilllliant Leo was in that edgy flick.

But  it was a long shot, for sure. Not so much of a long shot was Jennifer Lawrence’s nomination for “Winter’s Bone.” And that year the picture got nominated, too! AND John Hawkes for Best Supporting Actor. He may be up again for Best Actor in three shakes of a lamb’s tail, as my mother used to say, or was it my British grandmother? for “Sessions” coming up at TIFF in about two weeks, or less…

And now Sasha’s raving about Ann Dowd’s astounding performance in “Compliance.” It counts for a lot. And I’ll tell you how. Sasha’s Oscar advocacy of certain people, like the aforementioned above ^ makes OTHER Oscar bloggers take note and start writing about the wonderful Ann Dowd, too.

I want you to know however, that I said it here, first. But be that as it may, Ann Dowd’s great work is not to be ignored, and now it isn’t being shunted to the sidelines of the Oscar Race , with great pieces like this being written about her by Oscar Bloggers that count! This is how it begins, folks. I case you didn’t know.

Support by Sasha will make the PUBLICITY TEAM at IFC the distributor, HOPEFULLY mount a full on Oscar campaign for the magnificent Dowd. As of the opening night a few days ago, I really don’t think that they had. And I don’t know if it was even on the cards. Until, maybe I told them to!

“Are you doing an Oscar campaign for her?” I pointedly asked an exec with Ms. Dowd and her agent, Gary Gersh standing right next to us.

“Don’t worry. We’ve got it covered.”

But I did wonder. Ann Dowd’s expression told me even she wasn’t sure herself.

You see, mounting an Oscar campaign for a certain actress, especially an unknown middle-aged character actress is a VERY costly venture for an Indie distributor. It helps that “Compliance” has gotten something like a 91% Fresh Tomato rating on Rotten Tomatoes http://www.rottentomatoes.com

Making “Compliance” one of the Best Reviewed Films of the year. And what do “Frozen River”, “Winter’s Bone” and “Compliance” all have in common? They all came out of Sundance, I believe, and please correct me if I am wrong. I know you will….

And this changes the Best Actress race, too, because it makes Ann Dowd a contender to be reckoned with.

Elizabeth Olsen gets an ovation at NYFF for “Martha Marcy May Marlene”!

And who got her that rousing out-of-nowhere round of applause and enthusiastic cheers? Well, l’il ole me, of course.

It was during the Q & A during the Press Conference after the Press Screening of “Martha Marcy May Marlene” a title I am STILL struggling with. This was at the New York Film Festival, of course.

And I made a statement. I congratulated the beauteous 21-year-old actress who makes such a stunning screening debut that she’s just blown that category, Best Actress, wide open.

I told her that I wanted to congratulate her for giving what was surely one of the best performances of the year, by an actress, and the crowd went wild, roaring and clapping in agreement.

She was startled, the moderater was startled. The director Sean Durkin looked, well, in agreeance, pleased. And then I exclaimed “That’s the New York Film Critics speaking! This never happens! You got it, baby!”

And I was totally chagrined that I had called Elizabeth Olsen “baby” or “babe” in front of hundreds of people, well, press/people, but still…

And then I asked the director Sean Durkin “Who was Marlene?” and suddenly I felt all the air go out of his(and my tires).

He mumbled something like “It’s there.”

And I still don’t know what he meant.

The title is the biggest stumbling block this very good indie film has on its’ way to the Oscar. Will people (that is Academy members) be able to pronounce it? And if they can’t pronounce it, will they watch it? Will they even vote for a film whose title they can’t say?And is as confusing as the young heroine, whose names form the complicated title, becomes through her involvement with a strange cult in Upstate New York?

But the film is very, very good. A gripping thriller/psychological drama about this young girl’s entrapment by these Manson-esque modern-day hippies, led by the always-threatening John Hawkes. Hawkes received an Academy Award nomination for “Winter’s Bone.” Which was much more confusing than this film.

Another Indie to emerge out of Sundance. And it has the low-budget, Sundancy feel to it. And every year for the past several years, a Best Actress nominee has emerged out of Sundance. Last year it was Jennifer Lawrence for “Winter’s Bone”, then before her Gabourey Sidibe for “Precious” The list goes on and on and this year it could be Elizabeth Olsen.

Elizabeth Olsen, the younger sister of the famous Olsen Twins, is sublime in a very difficult, complex role and very very clear in her portrayal of a confused, lost young woman who falls in with the worst people she could possibly ever be associated with. Her struggles to make sense of what has happened and is still happening to her form the crux of this gripping, exciting movie.

With a deceased mother and an antipathetic grandmother(who we never see) Martha is on the run and gets picked up by this cult who live on a farm in a remote area of upstate New York. Hawkes, the ringleader, immediately changes her name to Marcy May. And then her programming and reprogramming and deprograming and inculcation into this cult begins. It’s eerie, accurate and frightening in its’ details. So simple and yet so scary.

The film shifts back and forth in time between present day Martha who has run away and sought refuge in the real world again with a barely tolerant older sister, Lucy(Sara Paulson) and her brother-in-law Hugh Dancy. Yes! There he is again! Twice in the same week! Giving yet another nuanced, excellent performance as a straight-arrow, British businessman who is losing his patience with his bizarre foundling of a sister-in-law.

And who’s Marlene in the end? I was told by many critics afterwards it was a name they, the cult, used when talking about all the cute, young girls, when they are dealing with outside people. I.E., the world. “Cousin Marlene” is what they are ALL called. Just to keep everything even more confusing.

Apart from that nearly unprounceable title “Martha Marcy May Marlene” is one of this year’s best films. And should have no problem getting Elizabeth Olsen and perhaps John Hawkes, too, back in the Oscar race this year. This is Elizabeth Olsen’s feature film debut and it’s stunning, stunning, stunning.

Indie Spirit Noms Out. Who’s Up? Who’s Down? Does Oscar CARE?

And the nominations keep coming! Now the Indie Spirit Award nominations are out and the question I always pose. AND KNOW THE ANSWER TO. Is do Indie Spirit Nominations influence the Academy? Or anyone? And the answer is NO. AMPAS members are notoriously insular, if not downright snobby. And don’t even DEIGN to follow these upstart Indie Awards(and that goes double for the Gothams, wha? who?) for films they probably have never heard of, mostly….and yet…

Well, I’ll tell you who these Nominations today influence. It’s the films’ press agents. That’s who.

The exclusion of Ryan Gosling for “Blue Valentine” and Julianne Moore for “The Kids Are All Right” is downright shocking. SHOCKING! And it’s a wake up call to their press agents and their film companies to get on the ball and correct this. If they can. Before it’s too late.

The Best Actress nominees are the only group that will remotely resemble the five Best Actress nods that the Academy will dole out. Parsimoniously, these year it seems with soooo many great performance to chose from in this category. But the final 5 may have been nailed, by of all people, the Indie Spirits. Why? Because leading actresses and the films that revolve around them are all low budget, indie films.

Which is what these Nominations are meant to celebrate, which is all noble, fine and good. Just don’t take them as any indications at the Academy is going to follow suit, except in the Best Actress category strangely, which may prophetically show us THE FIVE(minus Greta Gerwig, ugh! For “Greenberg” double ugh!) And those ladies are Annette Bening, Natalie Portman, Michelle Williams(Yay!), Nicole Kidman for “Rabbit Hole” and that wretched Jennifer Lawrence. Yes, HER. AGAIN. Turning up like roadkill on a Western highway. Triple ugh!

There may be no stopping those five, whether I like them or not. But who this may help is, of all people, the lovely Naomi Watts, who certainly deserves her nomination for Best Supporting Actress for “Mother and Child.” That may repeat at the Oscars, if the Golden Globes(and everybody else) picks up on her beautiful, memorable performance.

That’s Sony Pictures Classics. And they may see now the non-wisdom of they’re not putting Leslie Manville in Supporting. Nobody from “Another Year” got ANYthing in the acting categories.

You also have to remember, though unless you live in L.A. you might not even notice, that these awards are given out the DAY BEFORE the Oscars, so they have absolutely NO influence. It’s too late. Everybody has voted.

www.awardsdaily.com has the complete list. But get ready this is just the start! The Golden Satellites(what?) announce within 24 hours.

“King’s Speech” Breaking Box-Office records!

I’m oh so happy to report that the brilliant, moving, unforgettable “King’s Speech” is breaking box-office records this holiday weekend in VERY limited release. Check out just how much, where et alia at www.indiewire.com The inimitable Scott Feinberg also talks about this and many other fabulous things at www.ScottFeinberg.com

He used to call it com.www.And the Winners Is…com

And he’s got an actual Academy member to write about everything Awardsworthy under the name of Deep Voice. It’s a member of the Writer’s Branch and is he cantakerous! But interesting. He thinks for example that “The Kids Are All Right” has got no nominations in its’ future, just Mark Ruffalo!(?!) And I agree that “The Social Network” doesn’t “make you care. It doesn’t move me.” But that nevertheless he’d nominate Justin Timberlake as Best Supporting Actor. That’s TWO nominations in that category, gone, from this guy, who can’t even vote for the Actors UNTIL they are nominated by the Actor’s Branch, come nomination announcing day. He can however nominate WRITERS in the two categories that the Academy has, Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay. EVERYone in all the Branches gets to nominate the Ten Best Pictures… but I digress…

Also this the coming Awards Avalanche week. Tomorrow night is the Gothams, where, probably “A Winter’s Bone” is going to clean up, and then later this week, on Thursday, the National Board of Review is set to announce its’ winners.

Update: It did. It got Best Feature and Best Ensemble, but no Jennifer Lawrence as Breakout Performer, which she was nominated for, but didn’t win. Does this help the film get into the Year’s Ten Best at the Oscars? Hmmm..(Sound of Oscar…thinking…) Hmmm….

The National Board of Review are a New York-based awards-giving group that has a LARGE portion of females in their membership, a rarity in this male-dominated business, believe it or not, and also many, many gay members. More so than most groups.

And judging by that, I’d say “The King’s Speech” is going to sweep. It’ll get Best Picture from them, and Colin Firth will win the first, but not the last of his many, many, much deserved awards that are going to be coming at him like, well, gangbusters. Mixed metaphor? But hey that’s what I do!

Helena Bonham-Carter should also score here where they consider a year’s work not just one performance like the Academy. So HBC should qualify for not just her shy, sly Queen Elizabeth in “The King’s Speech”, but also her mad Red Queen in “Alice in Wonderful” and her 15 min.(or less) turn as Bellatrix La Strange, the witchiest witch who witch there was more of in the latest “Harry Potter.” Now playing…

Best Supporting Actor…I think they are also going to go for Geoffrey Rush, here. And maybe also for Best Director, Tom Hooper. If they go for Hooper over David Fincher(who’s shooting the Milennium Trilogy in Sweden, and may not get back for the ceremonies in Jan. You wouldn’t think this would count against him, but the NBR wants all its’ winners present and accounted for. Yes, they do.)

Best Actress may very well be Natalie Portman, starting her awards march. She, along with Firth, well, the two of them are going to be seeing A LOT of each other as the awards season rolls out like a juggernaut over all our Oscar-filled lives…

Breakthrough Performance by an Actor could be the only award that “The Social Network” wins….Will they give it to New York native Jesse Irritatingberg? They like Native New Yorkers. So that’s what Natalie Portman, from Long Island, has going for her, too.

Or it could be someone else from “The Social Network” Even Justin Timberlake could score here.

I’d be very surprised if Jennifer Lawrence (who totally doesn’t deserve it) will find her week bracketed by awards. First from the Gothams on Monday as Best Breakthrough then by the NBR later this week. She’s got that blonde teenage mojo working…Whether I like it or not…And I don’t…

Update: She didn’t win the BreakOut/Breakthrough category tonight at the Gothams…and with all this hype, she certainly SHOULD have…but the NBR may fall for it…

Best Adapted Screenplay would be the first Aaron Sorkin win and start his line dance to the Podium at the Kodak.

And now they’ve just announced that Anne Hathaway and James Franco are gonna c0-host the Oscars!?!?! Sounds like a big mistake. Also this may eliminate BOTH of them from the race.

Personally, I LOVED “Love and Other Drugs” but it’s a zesty, sexy Rom Com, with a dash of Parksinson’s Disease thrown in…as an Oscar grabber… for Annie, which I don’t think it’s going to be. Rom Com’s almost NEVER rank with the Academy, especially in this crowded year for females!

And can Annie and Jimmy pull off hosting duties? I’m of the mind that yes, SHE can. Annie can do anything. Great inner resources as a performer. Comes from growing up with Mom as a actress and a gay brother. Talk about Drama!

But James is soooo laid back…I keep thinking of him in “Pineapple Express…

Very disappointed by “Winter’s Bone” & Jennifer Lawrence.

I haven’t been having a great few days. My friend, Jill Clayburgh died suddenly and unexpectedly. And I was really disappointed by “Winter’s Bone”, and especially Jennifer Lawrence’s monotone performance and to a lesser extent “Scottsboro Boys” the musical now on Broadway.

“Winter’s Bone” has been hyped to the skies as an Oscar contender. And let me say that if everyone and his mother in a field of ten pictures is saying it’s in, it just may be in. “The Blind Side” spot. Yes, I guess anything is possible in the Oscar race. Sandra Bullock’s win really did show that quality is just not always the winner. Popular though she is. It’s a popularity contest. It’s come down to being sort of being sort of a PROM.

And Sandra Bullock was last year’s Prom Queen and she’s someone who indisputably has a box-office track record. But acting-wise? No. At least, not yet. She’s getting better and may some day give a great ACTING performance, but she hasn’t yet…

Which brings me to my totally dumb-founded reaction to everyone’s OVERreaction to Jennifer Lawrence as the lead in “Winter’s Bone” and her supposed slum-dunk Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

I dont think the Academy is going to go for it. In a crowded field, she’s not giving the kind of performance that the critics say she’s giving. I was unmoved in the extreme. I was bored.

Under-acting, if that is indeed what she was doing as opposed to not acting at all, is historically something the Academy doesn’t reward. Especially in a crowded field. It’s just WONDERFUL, FANTASTIC that actresses in strong leading roles are plentiful this year. It’s been a long, long time since this was the case. I can’t remember when, actually.

Since I was a kid, I guess.

You have to go back soooo many years to find a ear like this for actresses.  Annette Bening AND Julianne Moore in “The Kid’s Are All Right” as the lesbian moms from heaven. Natalie Portman as the ballerina from Hell in “The Black Swan”. My fave Noomi Rapace blowing the walls out in “The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”(and her two other Lisbeth Salander films, too.) They say Nicole Kidman and Anne Hathaway are both contenders for their upcoming roles in “Rabbit Hole” and “Love and Other Drugs” respectively. I haven’t seen them yet.

But Jennifer Lawrence? In “Winter’s Bone”. You’ve got to be kidding.

I was FINALLY sent a “For Your Consideration” screener this week. I was really looking forward to watching it. Maybe it was the DVD. The “timing” of it, as it’s called, or color correction, may have been REALLY off. It’s was so dark in so many sections I couldn’t tell WHAT was happening. And the sound, too…

At one point, her most animated, Jennifer Lawrence is running through some kind of cattle housing(an industrial barn of some sort) yelling “Stop Milking?”  Or was she yelling “Stop killing”? Was it an animal slaughter house?

But geez Louise that was NOT an Academy performance. OK. You can call it subtle, but this kind of non-acting, low-key to the point of stupefaction is not rewarded. USUALLY.

But she’s been nominated for Break-Out Performance or something like that for the first up Gotham Awards, being given out in a few weeks…And she just may win…

But the only Academy precedent, I can site in Jennifer Lawrence’s defense, is that she got the Babe Factor securely on her side. She’s young. She’s blonde. She’s cute. But is that a reason to nominate her for the Oscar? Maybe it is.

Maybe I should see “Winter’s Bone” again. In a theater. But stupid doesn’t even begin to describe it’s lack of writing, direction, or acting.

It was DARK, as in underlit. And the sound was appauling…

So Jennifer Lawrence is the cute young thing…The cute young Southern Hillybilly of the moment…

But I aint’ buying what she’s selling and it’s going to be a shock to a lot of pundits when she’s left off the list of the Final Five.

Kudos to her publicists. They’ve made everyone THINK Jennifer Lawrence is a great actress. She’s not. She’s a babe. That is all.

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