Saturday, 22 September 2007

The Best Actress race.

Rest in Peace Mrs. Murdock.

Of course I first knew of Alice Ghostly, who passed away yesterday at 81, as the sassy teacher (what subject did she do again?) in “Grease”, but she had a long and illustrious career before and after this. However it was Mrs. Murdock that first made me notice her, she was a bit player, but had such an ease with line reading…I wished she was one of my teachers.

”The car’s as hot as the parts on it”

Her only foray in the world of the Oscars is when, in 1969, accepted an Oscar on behalf of Maggie Smith who won for “The Prime of Miss Jean Brody”, for the two had starred on Broadway together.
Ghostley made her Broadway debut in "Leonard Sillman's New Faces of 1952." She received critical acclaim for singing "The Boston Beguine," which became her signature song. In the 1960s, Ghostley received a Tony nomination for various characterizations in the Broadway comedy "The Beauty Part" and eventually won for best featured actress in "The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window."

From 1969 to 1972, she played the good witch and ditzy housekeeper Esmeralda on TV's "Bewitched." She played Bernice Clifton on "Designing Women" from 1987 to 1993, for which she earned an Emmy nomination in 1992.
She was well aware that she would never be the leading lady, and she knew of the types of roles she should pursue.
"I knew I didn't look like an ingenue. My nose was too long. I had crooked teeth. I wasn't blond. I knew I looked like a character actress. But I also knew I'd find a way,".

Aren’t these always the best actors.

Complete updates every where

So I finally caved into the eventual double nominee status of Cate Blanchett this year, and put her in my Best Supporting Acress prediction. I also took a few away, and added some for good measure. I am now thinking that any of the women could make it in. Alot of films have yet to be seen, so we can never really know at this point.

The biggest change came in Best Supporting Actor as the Hal Bolbrook buzz was making my ears bleed. Also I can't stop thinking about "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" and overdue Albert Finney. There was a nice shift around, and I am still happy with my top 10 seem plausible. Actually the top sixteen seem likely.

Best Director is a tough one, but so far, buzz/reviews/word-of-mouth all point to this top five (well actually the top eight all seem very strong at this point). here are the new predictions.

The ugly word.

Racism. Hollywood hates it. They like to think of themselves as liberal, and they are when compared to a right wing Christian, but not in the big scheme of the world.
Of course when put in a corner where they have to choose between being racist and being homophobic they will choose the latter (It is ok to portray a gay woman/man, just don’t be one).
But they are still a racist bunch.

Black actors have been making great strides lately, but it is always easier for the men (women have a hard enough time getting good roles whatever colour they are. But that is sexism and that will be a whole different blog post in the future).
What I want to know is…When will Asian actors get their due?

The Film Experience has a great article about the death of Miyoshi Umeki (pictured), who was the first Asian performer to win an Oscar. This was in 1957 for “Sayonara”, and she won in the supporting category. (Hattie McDaniel did the same for black women in the 1930’s).

Since this landmark victory only one other Asian actor has won an Oscar, and that was Best Supporting Actor Haing S. Ngor for “The Killing Field” (pictured and please read his Wiki page).

There has been very little embracing of the Asian film community by Hollywood, unless they are sword fighting or doing high kicks on top of trees. Some of the most heart breaking and complex performances come out of Asian films.
Perhaps it is all to ‘alien’ for Hollywood. Physically they look a little different, their language is very difficult for westerners to comprehend and their culture is completely strange in comparison. How could Hollywood possibly relate?

Since the dawn of Oscar time there have only been the following Asian actors nominated for an Oscar
2006 – Rinko Kikuchi for “Babel”
2003 – Ken Watanabe for “The Last Samurai”
1984 – Haing S. Ngor for “The Killing Fields” (Won)
1984 – Noriyuki “Pat” Morita for “The Karate Kid”
1966 – Makoto Iwamatsu for “The Sand Pebbles”
1957 - Sessue Hayakawa for “The Bridge on the River Kwai”
1957 – Miyoshi Umeki for “Sayonara” (Won)

That’s right folks
Only seven.
Of course I could have counted the half Chinese Tilly sisters, but that is not really fair, and it is a stretch. Same with the half Indian Ben Kingsley. In fact no Indian actor has ever been nominated.
These are very upsetting results, especially when you think of the talent that has been passed over, or just plain ignored.
Ziyi Zhang – “Crouching Tiger. Hidden Dragon”, “House of Flying Daggers”, “2046” and “Memoirs of a Geisha”
Tony Leung Chui Wai(pictured) - “In the Mood For Love”, “Infernal Affairs”
Madhur Jaffrey – “Shakespeare-Wallah”
Michelle Yeoh – “Crouching Tiger. Hidden Dragon”
Yun-Fat Chow – “Crouching Tiger. Hidden Dragon”
Ge You – “To Live”
Yuya Yagir – “Nobody Knows”
Kang Soo Yeon – “Contract Mother”
Naseeruddin Shah – “Monsoon Wedding”
Shefali Shetty – “Monsoon Wedding”
Li Gong – “Memoirs of a Geisha”, “Farewell my Concubine”, “Raise the Red Lantern” and “Qiu Ju Goes to Court”
Maggie Cheung – “Clean”, “The Actress”, “In the Mood For Love”

And that is just the tip of the iceberg. There are probably hundreds more that I have not see, or have not even had the chance to be largely seen outside their own countries.

But then again I am still thinking of the Oscars as some sort of international award ceremony. The various categories are called ‘Best’, like ‘Best Actress’. This simply is not true and very very misleading.
Perhaps they should change it to “Best American, or sometimes English Actress, or Actress from a country we are not threatened by, or is too unfamiliar to us”. Lets face it, that is what the awards are.

This is what most awards are, awarding the familiar. Only critics groups and Cannes ever branch out, but even this is still a rare thing.

Why is this?

Why did “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” get no acting nominations. Did Michelle Yeoh, with her yearning eyes and repressed heart, not move you to tears?
Did you not find Tony Leung’s quiet intense passion simply amazing in “In the Mood for Love”?
You nominated the whole cast of “Sideways” expect the hilarious and deserving Sandra Oh, and she is American. Was she not as good as the rest? (I thought she was)
Lordy, thinking about Sandra I realize even the American actors of Asian descent have a hard time even getting the roles in movies that could lead them to Award season glory. They have to look to TV.

I guess we are more comfortable with them in our living room, than our movie screen…..oh wait…I forgot about “All American Girl”.

The Best Actor conundrum

Best Actor is always a tricky one, especially this early on. With films yet to be released, and public embarrassments yet to happen, no one can really be sure who will get the nominations. I have tried to predict them

As I see it, there are at least seventeen contenders.

Casey Affleck and Brad Pitt may have to duke it out for a place in “The Assassination of Jessie James”, but these types of films (think Terrence Malick-esque) never really do well in the acting categories.
“Reservation Road” was going to be a big contender, but advance word was not good at all with some saying Joaqiun Pheonix was nearly unwatchable (yikes!).

We also have another film with two possible Best Actors in it, Ridley Scott’s “American Gangster”. Denzel Washington has the juicier role, but never rule out Russell Crowe. My only thought is that another gangster film so soon after “The Departed” may fall a little flat. Also Ridley Scott has not shown greatness for some time. It also seems that the gangster place may already be filled by Viggo Mortensons much heralded performance for “Eastern Promises”.

This brings us next to Richard Gere who has career best notices for two roles, one “The Hoax” came and went, and the fate looks similar for “The Hunting Party”, a pity as he is overdue.
Can Phillip Seymour Hoffman repeat Oscar glory with “The Savages”? Advance word seem likely, but he could easily get lost in a year full of important and ‘political’ films.
Films like “In the Valley of Elah” which will get Tommy Lee Jones a nomination, and “Grace is Gone” which looks to do the same for the long ignored John Cusack. We also have George Clooney impressing in the corporate thriller “Michael Clayton” and Christian Bale has already impressed for his POW performance in “Rescue Dawn”

Then you throw into the mix James McAvoy’s sensitive and majestic performance in “Atonement”. He impressed last year in his “supporting” role in “The Last King of Scotland”, and may have just missed a nomination. Expect this to be rectified this year (If this doesn't happen I will be very very angry Academy members!!! Consider that a warning).
Also we have a man who is a truly amazing actor in the race this year. Daniel Day Lewis makes few movies, but when he does, other actors need to watch out! His turn in “There Will Be Blood” certainly looks as impressive as anything he has ever done before.

Lastly we have three actors who we have heard nothing of or seen nothing of their performances. Khalid Abdalia has a very iconic role in a much beloved book with “The Kite Runner”. Can he pull it off? More importantly can he over come the race/foreigner factor?
Can Johnny Depp sing? We all are waiting to find out with “Sweeney Todd” but as I say…the man got a nomination for a Disney ride.....why doubt him now.
Same for Tom Hanks in “Charlie Wilson’s War”, but he has fallen out of Academy favor as of late, and is it me or does he just not seem to be trying anymore?

What this tells us is that there is no way to see which way the Academy will vote. Like sheep they will most likely go with popular opinion, but they have also been know to throw a few curve balls. This is very exciting stuff!

However you can probably tale this away with you.
The Academy does not shy away from nominating political/controversal films/performances. They do sometimes like to send a message. Remember these are movie people we are talking about, they like to think they can control the government.
Do not be surprised to see nominations for "Charllie Wilson's War", "The Kite Runner", "Michael Clayton", "Grace is Gone", "In the Valley of Elah" and "Rescue Dawn", and be even less surprised to see "Atonement" possible sweep them most likely will be the least offensive of them all (this is not a knock to the film at all) and the easiest to vote for - remember the year the Academy "Crash"ed?
The constantly make some of the worst errors in judgement (pictured) by trying not to be offensive at all.
Nominate conservatively.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Box - Love my box (Sitges memories edition)

Well these are the songs that reminded me of my wonderful fantastic life changing week in Sitges a nice little town south of Barcelona.

First up I will give you one of the tracks from one of the two albums I bought at the airport on my way there. Choosing just one track was near impossible as the whole album “Ghosts” by Siobhan Donaghy is brilliant, but I had to do it (not really as I am doing two).
The first reminds me of the bf laying on the bed, post siesta. He looked so relaxed and comfortable and that made me very happy. “There’s a Place” was one of his favourites, off an album I was pleasently surprised he really liked.

”Take your time, be it mine cause I will be all the strength you need”

I am as stated picking two songs from “Ghosts”. This album just reminds me my trip so much so much, and it really was just the perfect place for me to relax and unwind and this album makes me feel that all over again. This song (my choice) is “Make it Right”.

”Don't lose control of this misery. Why pacify? Just punish me. Seperate from this pain up on me. Don't let me take this liberty”

Next up is a song from the second album I bought at the airport. M.I.A.’s “Kala”.
I loved her first album, and her second is no exception. If the world was right, this would be huge.
I couldn’t decide out of two songs, but remembered I had already put “Paper Planes” on the blog, so here you have “Come Around”.

”Check my coat in and I paid the dollar,
Sidekick rings, "what's up? holla!"
Text the address, I'll see you later
Baby come down
Come down, come down, come down
run down, run down, run down
Run, make a run, make a run, make a run, make a run, make a run down
A dun da da dun da da dun da da dun da da dun dun
Beat goes on
A dun da da dun da da dun da da dun da da dun dun
Beat goes”

And lastly the dancing. We had such fun in Spain, but the best night was the last one (for many tall blonde reasons) as we were dancing in “Mediterraneo” till the wee hours.
The song that sums this up was “Heater” by Samim. If ever a dance song made me smile with no lyrics it was this.
The best use of the accordion that I know.
Bonus point for the joyous expression of the bf's face as this tune was turned out on the dance floor.

Women Amock!!!!

The idea of remaking “The Women” was not one I found horrendous. Actually I was welcoming it, feeling a nice update could be just what underworked actresses in Hollywood needed.
It was all going lovely, even the news that Dianne English was writing and directing did not cause me concern.

Then the cast was announced.

Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Debra Messing, Annette Bening, Jada Pinkett Smith and Candice Bergen were all the first cast members announced.
I am not saying these actresses are bad in any way shape for form, or that they are the wrong choice. What I am saying is that these women are all well known. Even an experienced director would have a hard time telling the story with so many familiar faces on board.

Dianne English is not experienced.

And now it seems she has gone ahead and cast even more big names.
Bette Midler, Cloris Leachman, Carrie Fisher, Lynn Whitfield and Debi Mazar have now been added to the cast.
This will be less than a movie and more of a game of ‘name that actress’. The end results do not bode well.

The most positive thing that can come of this is that Lyne Whitfield gets more work and it is really going to make Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon so much easier to play.

Southland Tales trailer

Ok ok...bad buzz and boo's at Cannes and trouble shooting as well as the problems getting the finances to finish it aside, I am excited.
The worst case scenario is it is divisive. Divisive is good.

Complete updates in Best Picture

Well the deafening buzz and reviews surrounding Sean Penn’s “Into the Wild” have got me. This looks like it will be a serious candidate. Also the rather negative reviews from Toronto for both “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” (like we are surprised) and “Reservation Road” make them both fall out of the top ten all together.

Also the strong support for “In the Valley of Ellah”, “Eastern Promises” and “Michael Clayton” in Toronto and “I’m Not There” and “Lust/Caution” in Venice, raise both of these films profiles.

The love/meh reviews for “The Assassination of Jessie James” could mean either a last minute nom (ala “The Thin Red Line”) or nada. Also the new trailer for “There Will Be Blood” (see below) makes me think that this will make it in… could it not?

Read my new predictions here

Thursday, 20 September 2007

"P.S. I Love You" Trailer

I thought I would only link to this just to ease the mind of all you Hillary Skank haters out there. This looks terrible. I mean terrible terrible terrible. Embarrassing and terrible.
I doubt she will be crashing the Oscars this year.
However I must say I wish Lisa Kudrow did more.

Watch the horror here.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

The Actress Question

Ok, So I really needed to update my Oscar Predictions already. Should have really waited till after Toronto to post them, but what the hey.
They are looking dated already, especially Best Actress.

I was thinking about this category today at work and how it is always filled with four types of women. So I want to look at who, out of the contenders, fall into these categories, and then who will most likely succeed.

1) First Time Nominees

Ellen Page – She was not on my radar, but has been getting fantastic notices for “Juno”. She already made a splash with “Hard Candy” and she also has “An American Crime” heading this way, but she is only 20, and the film does not necessarily look like some thing Academy could embrace….who knows though.

Marion Cotillard – She could be one of the few foreign actresses awarded the spot. The reviews are so there, and she does look like a very likely contender. Will she have the precursors though?

Keri Russell got good notices for “Waitress” but only enough to get her the Globe nom. I fear she will sit this year out.

The “Life in the Time of Cholera” Women. Well there is only Giovanna Mezzogiornia really for this category. The film has had no real noise as of yet. Could this mean the studio is holding onto this as a pinch hitter? This seems likely, and the cast look very promising.

What of Summer Bishil in "Nothing is Private". The film has rapid love/hate response. No one has said anything really negative for the actress though, and those who love the movie, love her. Hmmmmm

2) The Supporting Actress Graduates (those who have been nominated or one in this categry, but never graduated to leading lady in the Academy’s eyes)

The most likely candidate would be “A Mighty Heart” star Angelina Jolie. Good notices and star wattage may be enough to see her shortlisted.

Uma Thurman – In Bloom has had no buzz, and Variety did not like it in the review, and other critics do not single her out. Will be a battle.

Marcia Gay Harden - Rails & ties has gotten fine reviews, and the trailer looks nice and slushy, but I do not think even the daughter of Clint Eastwood can direct Marcia to a nomination. Stranger things have happened.

3) The “Never Won’s/Overdue’s

We all want to see Laura Linney win an Oscar and by the sounds of it “The Savages” is that pic. But how often does a comedy win, plus she has A LOT of external competition.

“Atonement” has it’s rabid fans, as does ,Keira Knightly. I personally think she is a deserved winner, but there are a few who feel that she does not have that big emotional scene that will take her all the way.

Sigourney Weaver needs to win. She is an icon and feminist hero. I had high hopes for “A Girl in the Park” but as many great things that I have heard about her performance have been dampered by some horrific.

Julianne Moore is rumored to be great in “Savage Grace”, but that is just a rumor. I will find out come the end of October when I get a chance to see it. The woman however is very overdue.

“An American Crime” has been around for a while, but where is the distribution? That may pose a hurdle for Catherine Keener in getting a nom.

Cate Blanchette wants that Best Actress trophy really badly. “The Golden Age” is meant to be a disappointment, but her performance is not. Expect her to ride the wave all the way to the end.

“Eastern Promises” got RAVES,, but more for the movie than the performances. This could mean bad things for Naomi Watts and her chance of nomination number two.

4) The Previous Winners/Oscar Royalty

“The Brave One” is a divisive film, but all hail Jodie Foster. I can see her making it all the way to the end, and I hope she does. The press she is doing reminds everyone what an intelligent and gracious woman she is.

Julie Christie’s film has faded, but not forgotten. She needs some precursors for “Away From Her” to ride the year out.

I fear the Nicole Kidman will sit this year out. She plays a very unlikable character, although she is great. Perhaps she will hit it big in Supporting.

We have also heard nothing from Halle Berry’s performance in “Things We Lost in the Fire”. Could be great, could not. This is a very iffy scenario and I am expecting her co star to take the glory.

A big ole mountain of doo doo.

The Tony Award winning Grey Gardens is being produced by HBO as a feature starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange, originally based on the 1975 documentary about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' eccentric cousin and aunt.

The project has been in the works since 2006, though HBO was not involved at that time. Albert and David Maysles' documentary follows the relationship between the mother-daughter duo of ''Big Edie'' (Lange) and ''Little Edie'' Beale (Barrymore), who spent most of their lives in a decaying mansion known as Grey Gardens on New York's Long Island.

The two made national headlines in 1971 when the local health department raided the home and found more than 50 cats, raccoons, fleas, piles of garbage, human and cat excrement, and no heat or running water. The department was going to kick the pair out of the 28-room mansion until Kennedy Onassis stepped in and paid to help clean it up. In spring 2006, Grey Gardens opened as a musical at Playwright Horizons before moving to Broadway in November at the Walter Kerr Theatre.

The play was a hit, and the performances were fantastic (according to my sources who saw it). Jessica Lange is a fantastic choice, but we shall see about Drew. Never lived up to the thespian we thought she could be. Although the idea of a these two women excreting in the corner of a run down mansion repulses me, and at the same time makes me very curious.


THIS has managed to get a TV deal.

From EW:

”Reality production company 44 Blue Prods. has signed a development deal with Chris Crocker, the Internet star whose tear-filled defense of Britney Spears, following her MTV Video Music Awards performance, has generated close to eight million hits on YouTube in just one week. Crocker is a 19-year-old who lives with his grandparents in Tennessee. Prior to the Britney video, Crocker developed an audience with videos on MySpace in which he expressed his opinion on various topics. ''It's going to pretty much be the 'Chris Crocker experience,''' said 44 Blue co-founder Rasha Drachkovitch of the new TV show. ''We consider him a rebel character that people will find interesting. He's going to be a TV star.'' Since his Britney video blew up, Crocker has appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live and inspired a spoof from Seth Green (Robot Chicken).”

What ever happened to real celebrities?
People like this who constantly seek attention by posting videos on You Tube are just asking for trouble.
The entertainment machine will eat these people up and spit them out.
Today’s internet weirdo is tomorrows’ drug addicted has-been.
Do we really think someone like this has the emotional/mental resources to survive Hollywood?

Leave You Tube freaks on You Tube and off my TV please!

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Cera starring in Youth in Revolt

Michael Cera, who I haven’t seen in “Superbad” but LLLLOVED in “Arrested Development” (great clip there, is starring in Dimension Films' adaptation of C.D. Payne's 1993 novel ‘Youth in Revolt’.

It tells the story Nick Twisp, a young boy of above-average intelligence going through puberty. He is naturally obsessed with girls and sex but has had little experience with either. His life continues like a normal teenager's with his best friend Leroy, a.k.a. Lefty, and his divorced parents. While on vacation at a religious mobile home camp Nick meets Sheeni and his life is turned completely upside down.

The book has been published in multiple countries, turned into a play, broadcast over the radio, and given birth to a series of novels centered on Nick Twisp.

This all sounded very exciting, and I could easily imagine Cera in such a role. He was hysterical in “Arrested” and by all accounts is just as good in “Superbad”.
I love a coming of age film (if done with intelligence), and this book is rated quiet highly on Amazon (sorry…went to the UK site for average reviews…no offence Amerians….honestly)
So of course I surfed my ass off to IMDB to have a looksie and to my horror saw this as the plot synopsis:

“ While his trailer trash parents teeter on the edge of divorce, 14-year-old Nick sets his sights on dream girl Sheeni Saunders, hoping that she'll be the one to take away his virginity.”

Could they make it sound any more “American Pie”?

"Juno" trailer

Advanced word on this is deafening. Especially for Ellen Paige's performance. Also Jennifer Garner has been getting some rather nice notices as well. This could be the surprise film of the awards season.

A little Rihanna

According to Billboard this has only been released as a club track and not for the charts in favour of that not great "Shut up and Drive" song.
This should have been released, and hopefully will be released over here in the UK (where the history comes from).
This is groovalicious.