Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Final OSCAR Nominations Predictions

The Oscar nominations are announced tomorrow. Here are my final nominations in the top 8 categories:

Best Picture
Everyone agrees on the top 4, they have had consistent support everywhere. So had Dallas and Nebraska. Wolf surged late and it has its passionate supporters. Those are probably our nominees. Her has lots of love among critics and possibly younger AMPAS members, Blue Jasmine was embraced by actors, PGA and costumers so it is in if we go to 9. Banks is falling but it could rally if we get 10 nominees.
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • American Hustle
  • Gravity
  • Captain Phillips
  • Nebraska
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Her
  • Blue Jasmine
  • Saving Mr. Banks

Best Actor

Leo gets in instead of Redford whose fortunes have been falling since getting snubbed by SAG. The other 4 - Ejjiofor, Dern, McConaughey and Hanks - got consistent support. I'd be thrilled if Oscar Isaac surprises.

  • Bruce Dern  - Nebraska
  • Leonardo DiCaprio  - The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor  - 12 Years a Slave
  • Tom Hanks - Captain Phillips
  • Matthew McConaughey  - Dallas Buyers Club

Best Actress
For the most of the season it looked like 5 previous winners - Blanchett, Streep, Dench, Bullock and Thompson would be this year's list. Then August:Osage County opened and Meryl was pretty much dissed by everyone. Maybe there is such a thing as "Meryl fatigue". Adams will benefit from that : they love her and she's in an ascending likely best picture nominee.
  • Amy Adams - American Hustle
  • Cate Blanchett  - Blue Jasmine
  • Sandra Bullock - Gravity
  • Judi Dench - Philomena
  • Emma Thompson - Saving Mr. Banks

Best Director
For the unique and beguiling world he created in Her, Spike Jonze will join the directors of the top 4 likely best picture nominees.
  • Alfonso Cuaron  - Gravity
  • Paul Greengrass  - Captain Phillips
  • Spike Jonze - Her
  • Steve McQueen - 12 Years a Slave
  • David O. Russell - American Hustle

Supporting Actor
Gandolfini will surprise. Members will slip in the disk for Enough Said and find how sublime, funny and touching it is. And they will scribble Gandolfini's name on their ballots instead of Bradley Cooper and / or Jonah Hill. Bruhl is the only bright spot in his movie and will benefit from consistent mentions throughout the season. The other 3, Leto, Fassbender, Abdi, are in likely best picture nominees and have wide support.
  • Daniel Bruhl - Rush
  • Barhad Abdi - Captain Phillips
  • Michael Fassbender - 12 Years a Slave
  • James Gandolfini - Enough Said
  • Jared Leto - Dallas Buyers Club

Supporting Actress
Similar to Adams and DiCaprio I'm relying on the surge evidenced by a BAFTA nomination to predict Hawkins. Plus her movie was embraced by PGA and usually a dominant lead performance will carry a supporting one on its coattails. It happened to Ethan Hawke in Training Day and Maggie Gyllenhaal in Crazy Heart. If Meryl can't make it I don't see how Roberts does.
  • Sally Hawkins - Blue Jasmine
  • Jennifer Lawrence - American Hustle
  • Lupita Nyong'o - 12 Years a Slave
  • June Squibb - Nebraska
  • Oprah Winfrey - Lee Daniels' The Butler

Best Original Screenplay
  • Woody Allen - Blue Jasmine
  • Joel Coen and Ethan Coen - Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Spike Jonze - Her
  • Bob Nelson - Nebraska
  • David O. Russell and Eric Singer - American Hustle

Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Richard Linklater - Before Midnight
  • Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope - Philomena
  • Billy Ray - Captain Phillips
  • John Ridley - 12 Years a Slave
  • Terence Winter - The Wolf of Wall Street

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Golden Globes Moments I'm Hoping For

Cate Blancett and Chiwetel Ejiofor on GG Weekend

It's futile to predict the Golden Globes. The fun is in their left field choices : Paul Giamatti in Barney's Version or Colin Farrell in In Brugues. Instead here's what I'm hoping to see:

- Cate Blanchett and Chiwetel Ejiofor win for Drama Actress and Actor. These are my very two favorites this year and I can't believe they are actually front runners.

- Another favorite Oscar Isaac. His chances are slim but the Comedy actor category almost always delivers surprises.

- a train wreck moment a la Jodie Foster from last year. That's why we tune in.

- Crazy crazy couture from the ladies. And at least one man to mix it up with a dash of color away from navy blue and black.

- Rob Lowe to win and to deliver his speech looking exactly like this :

Hoping for a fun night!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Favorite Performances '13 - Chiwetel Ejiofor 12 Years A Slave

In this space I will pay homage to the actors who gave performances in 2013 that moved and stunned me. These are the performances that I responded to the most and will remember, I think, for years to come.

If Oscar Isaac is The Voice, Chiwetel Ejiofor is The Eyes.  Steve McQueen locks his camera on those eyes and Ejiofor delivers emotional catharsis. It's a crescendo of a performance, starting in shadows as Solomon plays the audience surrogate into this unspeakably cruel world, building to a finale that shatters. "I apologize for my appearance.  I have had a difficult time of things these past many years".

Before we get there, we pass through the funeral scene where Solomon both accepts his destiny as a slave and the camaraderie and community of his fellow slaves. And in another instance, that haunting image of Ejiofor's silent face, and those eyes, reflecting and for one split second looking directly into the audience. These are just a few peaks in this marvel of a performance. Ejiofor pierces the heart. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Cate x Scorcese / Woody = Oscar

Golden Cate in the January 2014 issue of Vogue

(Post was updated to reflect the results of 2013 Oscars)

Let's talk our favorite actor, Cate Blanchett as she accepts her first award of the film year for Blue Jasmine tonight at the New York Film Critics Circle dinner.

Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese are two iconoclast directors whose movies have been seen and acclaimed for decades. They are also known for getting their actors Oscars - nominations aplenty and a few wins. However never has an actor been nominated for work with both directors. That could change this year. Woody's latest has won rave reviews and much acclaim for its leading lady, Cate Blanchett. She of course won an Oscar in 2004 for Scorsese's The Aviator.

Since its release in July everyone has been talking Oscar and Cate. If indeed she is nominated and wins as everyone expects, she will be the only Oscar crossover between the two quintessentially New York auteurs. There have been few actors who worked with both and even got nominated, but never for both directors. Actors like Juliette Lewis (Husbands and Wives and Cape Fear), Sharon Stone (Stardust Memories and Casino), Leonardo DiCaprio (Celebrity and take your pick from the last decade of Scorsese).

Let's compare all the actors who received nominations for both directors but first a few observations:

- While Woody Allen is lauded for writing parts for women and Scorsese not so much, both got the most nominations for their actors in the best supporting actress category. 8 for Scorsese and 10 for Woody. Cate is the only winner in that category for Scorsese but Woody has 4 wins including 2 for Dianne Wiest. Allen has 3 nominations for Best Actress while Scorsese has 2.  Maybe Scorsese hasn't done so bad for his women.

- It makes sense that Scorsese would get 7 lead actor nominations as his movies are usually about men while Woody gets more in supporting as his movies are mostly ensembles.

- Overall Woody got 7 actors (Keaton, Wiest, Caine, Wiest, Sorvino, Cruz and Blanchett) an Oscar and Scorsese 5 (Burstyn, De Niro, Newman, Pesci and Blanchett).
Cate as Katharine Hepburn

Martin Scorsese

Academy Award for Best Actor:
  • 1976 Robert De Niro Taxi Driver
  • 1980 Robert De Niro Raging Bull (won)
  • 1986 Paul Newman The Color of Money (won)
  • 1991 Robert De Niro Cape Fear
  • 2002 Daniel Day-Lewis Gangs of New York
  • 2004 Leonardo DiCaprio The Aviator
  • 2013 Leonardo DiCaprio The Wolf of Wall Street
Academy Award for Best Actress:
  • 1974 Ellen Burstyn Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (won)
  • 1995 Sharon Stone Casino
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor:
  • 1980 Joe Pesci Raging Bull
  • 1990 Joe Pesci Goodfellas (won)
  • 2004 Alan Alda The Aviator
  • 2006 Mark Wahlberg The Departed
  • 2013 Jonah Hill The Wolf of Wall street
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress:
  • 1974 Diane Ladd Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
  • 1976 Jodie Foster Taxi Driver
  • 1980 Cathy Moriarty Raging Bull
  • 1986 Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio The Color of Money
  • 1990 Lorraine Bracco Goodfellas
  • 1991 Juliette Lewis Cape Fear
  • 1993 Winona Ryder The Age of Innocence
  • 2004 Cate Blanchett The Aviator (won)
Cate in Blue Jasmine

Woody Allen

Academy Award for Best Actor:
  • 1977 Woody Allen Annie Hall
  • 1999 Sean Penn Sweet and Lowdown
Academy Award for Best Actress:
  • 1977 Diane Keaton Annie Hall (won)
  • 1978 Geraldine Page Interiors
  • 2013 Cate Blanchett Blue Jasmine (won)
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor:
  • 1986 Michael Caine Hannah and Her Sisters (won)
  • 1989 Martin Landeau Crimes and Misdemeanors
  • 1994 Chazz Palmimenteri Bullets Over Broadway
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress:
  • 1978 Maureen Stapleton Interiors
  • 1979 Mariel Hemingway Manhattan
  • 1986 Dianne Wiest Hannah and Her Sisters (won)
  • 1991 Judy Davis Husbands and Wives
  • 1994 Dianne Wiest Bullets over Broadway (won)
  • 1994 Jennifer Tilly Bullets Over Broadway 
  • 1995 Mira Sorvino Mighty Aphrodite (won)
  • 1999 Samantha Morton Sweet and Lowdown
  • 2008 Penelope Cruz Vicky Cristina Barcelona (won)
  • 2013 Sally Hawkins Blue Jasmine

Friday, January 3, 2014

Favorite Performances '13 - Oscar Isaac Inside Llewyn Davis

In this space I will pay homage to the actors who gave performances in 2013 that moved and stunned me. These are the performances that I responded to the most and will remember, I think, for years to come.

If it was just for his beautiful voice this would still be Oscar Isaac's year. He not only sings but gives a fantastic performance in Inside Llewyn Davis.He's in almost every frame and the movie rests solely on his able shoulders. Playing an almost intolerable jerk who's really bad at life, is no small task. But Isaac keeps the audience riveted with his perfectly pitched performance, a slow burn of anger, exasperation, indignation and resignation. He accepts life at its most frustrating and we accept him as a new movie star.