Race for the Oscars 2012: Reevaluation of the Acting Races



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I’ve reevaluated my earlier picks for Best Picture and Director Oscars.  Now I’ll reevaluate my picks for Best Actor and Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress:
My original predictions for Actor were:
Daniel Day Lewis for Lincoln to win
Joaquin Phoenix for The Master
John Hawkes for The Sessions
Richard Gere for Arbitrage
Denzel Washinghton for Flight
My other possibilities were: Jean Louis Trintignant for Amour;  Hugh Jackman for Les Miserables; Bradley Cooper for The Silver Linings Playbook; Anthony Hopkins for Hitchcock; Bill Murray for Hyde Park on the Hudson.
Well, my first revision is obvious.  Gere is out (sorry, you’ll have to get your career nomination another year).  The others I’m keeping.  The only one I think who may have any danger is Joaquin Phoenix (who was at one time Lewis’s only rival for the win) because the reception of the film by voters hasn’t been that stellar, has been out of sight/out of mind for awhile, and he’s kind of pissed people off the last couple of years.  But I think he’ll make it.
Which leaves one opening.  Well, Murray is definitely out. That movie opened and didn’t make much of a connection with the public at all.  Trintignant, who was once a shoe in, is probably going to be pushed out due to competition (this is my biggest disappointment and I’m still asking for divine interference here).  Anthony Hopkins, though he gave an excellent performance, is finding that his film just didn’t make the impact it needed to in order to get a nomination.
That leaves Jackman and Cooper.  Cooper gave the weakest performance in his movie, but it is a Weinstein production and never count them out.  Jackman may depend on whether the movie crashes and burns when it opens.  Buzz is very divided right now.  There is the possibility of Phoenix and Hopkins are out and Cooper and Jackman are in. 
I am going to go for the following:
Daniel Day Lewis for Lincoln to win
Joachim Phoenix for The Master
John Hawkes for The Sessions
Denzel Washington for Flight
Hugh Jackman for Les Miserables.
Best Actress
My original list was:
Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook to win
Quvenzhane Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild
Emmanuelle Riva for Amour
Marion Cotillard for Rust and Bone
Helen Mirren for Hitchcock
Other possibilities:  Naomi Watts for The Impossible; Keira Knightley in Anna Karanina; Helen Hunt in The Sessions.
As you will have immediately noticed, I blew it big time here.  I didn’t mention Jessica Chastain as a serious competitor for two reasons.  First, at that time, ZDT was still too much an unknown quantity.  Second, it was unclear at the time that her role was large enough for the lead.  Apparently, it is.  Also, in this time, Rachel Weisz for The Deep Blue Sea is making a comeback.
So of the five above, if I put Chastain in, who do I pull out?  I will put out Helen Mirren for Hitchcock was a movie that everyone thought was going to connect with the voters, but it doesn’t seem to have.  I still maintain that Watts, Knightley and Hunt will be out for the same reasons I listed before (Watts is in a movie that is probably being shown too late to get enough votes; Knightley’s movie was not well received at all, to be polite; and Helen Hunt is a sure nom in the race for Supporting Actress).  Though Weisz is worthy, it’s just too little, too late.
The big question now becomes, who is going to win?  Jennifer Lawrence was a sure thing until ZDT opened. 
But my current predictions are:
Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook to win
Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty (right now, this is for personal reasons since I just saw the movie and was not imporess)
Quvenzhane Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild
Emmanuelle Riva for Amour
Marion Cotillard for Rust and Bone
.
Supporting Actor
My original predictions:
Alan Arkin for Argo to win
Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master
Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln
Robert de Niro for Silver Linings Playbook
Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained
Also possible is Dwight Henry for Beasts of the Southern Wild; Russell Crowe for Les Miserables; Matthew McConaughey for Magic Mike.
What might strike you first is the absence of the name of Javier Bardem for Skyfall, even on the list of possibilities.  In my defense, no one was really including him as a possibility.  Now he’s doing better in other awards groups, so that does put a Gremlin in the works.
I still maintain my first four above.  The question right now is who is going to win.  De Niro is out for that.  So right now it’s a three way battle between Arkin, Hoffman and Jones.  Arkin had it in the bag, but Hoffman started creeping up on him.  But now Jones is creeping up on Hoffman.  Part of this will depend no how much of a following The Master really has.  But since right now I have no idea who is going to win, I’m going for Arkin.
Now, the only nomination above in danger is DiCaprio.  If anyone is not going to make it, it’s probably going to be him.  And in his place will be either McConaughey or Bardem.  There is a huge ground swell to give McConaughey a nom for all his hard work lately and because he was really well received in Magic Mike.  Bardem may make it because no actor has ever been nominated for a James Bond film before and the voters may find it a bit impish to do it this time around; and his performance was well received.
So my new list of noms are:
 Alan Arkin for Argo to win
Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master
Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln
Robert de Niro for Silver Linings Playbook
Matthew McConaughey for Magic Mike
Now last but now least, Best Supporting Actress:
My previous list:
Anne Hathaway to win for Les Miserables
Helen Hunt for The Sessions
Sally Field for Lincoln
Amy Adams for The Master
(I only had four at the time)
As for the other possibilities:
Maggie Smith for Best Exotic Marigold Hotel; Ann Dowd for Compliance.; Jacki Weaver for Silver Linings Playbook; Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty. 
Of course, remove Chastain immediately.  She’s going in the lead category.
It now looks like Maggie Smith is a lock for a nom for her brilliant performance in …Marigold Hotel. 
So, if someone else gets knocked out, I think it’s going to be Amy Adams for The Master.  It’s a movie the critics love, but did not connect with the general movie goer and possibly not the general voter.  If she is out, I would think that it’s Ann Dowd.  Jackie Weaver is out due to tough competition.
So my new list:
Anne Hathaway to win for Les Miserables
Helen Hunt for The Sessions
Sally Field for Lincoln
Maggie Smith for The Beast Exotic Marigold Hotel
Ann Down for Compliance (just to go out on a limb and be stubborn).
Next: Screenplay

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL



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In the movie Gandhi, the titular character was asked “You don’t think we’re just going to walk out of India” and Gandhi replied, “Yes, in the end, you will walk out”.  And the British did.  But now, according to the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the British are walking back in.  And perhaps now India will get its comeuppance for having the temerity to ask their empire builders to leave in the first place. 
There is something kind of cute when it comes to the core idea of …Marigold Hotel.  Our jobs have been outsourced.  Now we’re going to get revenge for it: we’re going to outsource one of our biggest and most unpleasant industries: our old people.  In this pleasant and entertaining, but little more, comedy from writer Ol Parker and director John, Shakespeare in Love, Madden, a group of England’s most respected thespians pack their bags and leave the country and foist themselves upon the unsuspecting Indians when they fall for the equivalent of swamp land in Florida: a photo shopped hotel that has been opened by that refugee from Skins and Slumdog Millionaire, Dev Patel, to especially cater to their specialized needs.   And with no takesy backsies.  
But this outsourcing isn’t even the biggest irony here.  No.  When the British were asked to leave, the Indians claimed they’d be able to take care of themselves and would be responsible for their own problems.  But nearly seventy years later, according to Parker, they are now no better off than when the English were there.  So it is left to this group of patronizing patrons to teach the local yokels how to manage their love lives; stand up to their parents; treat the disenfranchised; and run a hotel.  Yes, the British are not only back, their back in their old roles of telling the people they once ruled how to rule their country.  A friend of mine called it the revenge of the Raj.
Okay, I’m taking a film that is not all that serious a bit too seriously.  Because in the end, …Marigold Hotel is a fun movie.  Not because it is about a group of people discovering the wonders of India and how it brings  new meaning to their lives (which I don’t think the movie remotely does), but because it gives us the great honor of watching a group of incredibly talented actors strut their stuff.  And do they strut it.  There’s nary a false note here.  Everyone–Tom Wilkinson as a gay judge; Judi Dench, as a widow who has never had to take care of herself; Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton (together again as husband and wife from Shawn of the Dead) as a couple whose relationship is on its last legs; and Ronald Pickup (an appropriate name for his role) and Celia Imrie as two birds of a feather, people looking for sex, love and/or money in a relationship, not necessarily in that order—are first rate here.   But it has to be said that as good as everyone is, it’s Maggie Smith, as a racist cockney housekeeper/nanny, who is magnificent.  No, I mean, she is really magnificent.   I mean, did I happen to mention how magnificent she was?  Well, if I didn’t, I have to say it, Maggie Smith is magnificent. 
Perhaps Hollywood actors need to take a lesson from the story here.  England had no use for these senior citizens, so they gladly shipped them off to the Far East (out of sight, out of mind).  Older actors have found that L.A. has no use for them, so maybe they should start outsourcing themselves to England where maybe they could get work doing such movies as Harry Potter (I mean, you had to be a pretty poor actor not to get a part in those films somewhere along the line), Downton Abbey and the recently released Quartet (which would make more than a suitable companion piece to …Marigold Hotel).   The parts they’d get certainly couldn’t get any worse than The Bucket List.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS OSCAR 2012



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Continuing my analysis of the 2012 Oscar race, it’s time to look at the Best Supporting Actress category.  This category has one of the same issues as the Supporting Actor category: for every lead in a movie, there are numerous supporting roles.  At the same time, as usual, it does look like the group is getting narrowed down to six or seven.
This category does have two unique issues this year.  One is that, unlike the Supporting Actor category, career noms are rare in the female categories (there are exceptions, like Lauren Bacall, Sylvia Sydney and Ann Southern).  The nominees are on average much younger than their male counterparts.
The other issue I wrote about in my entry on Best Actress.  This is a weak year for women, so some actresses have to make a decision whether to push themselves in the lead or supporting.  In a normal year, actresses like Jessica Chastain and Helen Hunt, and even Helen Mirren maybe, might have gone for a supporting nom.  But this year, they may be feeling that they might be able to get a lead nom (Jessica Chastain has apparently decided to go for it).   Also, Helen Mirren definitely has a leading role and a good chance of being nominated.
Now the list:
Anne Hathaway to win for Les Miserables.  This is actually a difficult prediction to make since the movie hasn’t opened yet, so it’s an unknown quantity.  But the buzz is so…buzzardly, that it seems like for now, this is what is going to happen.   She’s also a lead actress taking a supporting role (Robin Williams, Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones).
Helen Hunt for The Sessions.  Pretty much a sure thing.  It’s an excellent performance that is really being pushed.  And the possibility of John Hawkes getting a Best Actor nom will only help her.
Sally Field for Lincoln.  Also pretty much a sure thing.  Like Hunt, it’s hard to see how this won’t happen.  It’s a strong performance in a movie that is doing better than people predicted and may, now that Argo has peaked perhaps too soon, actually win best picture.
Amy Adams for The Master.  As I’ve said before, the movie went over my head and I don’t really understand people’s ravings about Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams (I felt that it wasn’t their acting so much as their characters weren’t that well written).  But everybody seems to think this is a done deal.  But I suspect that the people behind the push for The Master may have to put some extra effort just to get the voters to see it since my impression was that it didn’t have that great a reception (except by critics, which may help turn the tide as the critics awards start dribbling in).
As for the other possibilities:
Maggie Smith for Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  In many ways a surprise for me.  The movie kind of came and went.   But it’s Maggie Smith, who is one of the world’s finest actresses, and with the right push, they may be right.   There’s good buzz here.
Ann Dowd for Compliance.   I personally hope she makes it.  She’s great and it’s always fun when an unknown in a small movie makes the list (Melissa Leo in Frozen River and Richard Jenkins in the Visitor).  My friend says she may get the Jacki Weaver nomination (they are both character actors, older women, relatively unknown before their movies were released—Weaver got a nom for Animal Kingdom).   There is only one problem here and that is that Jacki Weaver may get the Jacki Weaver nomination.
Jacki Weaver for Silver Linings Playbook.  A popular movie and Weaver is very good so she may be dragged along with the other nominees.  Poor Bradley Cooper if she does, because he will be the only major actor in the movie not to get a nom.
There are other names out there, but as of right now, no one that serious.
However, something should be said about Jessica Chastain.  For awhile, she was assumed to be running in the supporting category for Zero Dark Thirty, then she changed to lead.  One issue here is that the movie hasn’t been released, so it is an unknown quantity.  What most people were commenting on, though, is what part could she have in a film about the killing of Bin Laden that could be a lead?  This may be a bit chauvinistic an observation, but we are curious.  And it does seem, as far as I can tell, that the Golden Globes have put her in lead (and they make the determination before the voting commences).  So we shall see whether Chastain has talked herself out of a nom or not.

QUARTET



One of the things I couldn’t stop thinking about while watching Dustin Hoffman’s (yeah, verily I say unto thee, that Dustin Hoffman) directorial debut Quartet, is that in England, when actors get older, they’re given showcases like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Quartet, or are made head of MI6, but in the U.S., the women either retire or go to TV and the men are stuck with vehicles like The Bucket List and Little Fockers (I’m not sure which is worse, but I guess I’d rather be working than not).
Quartet is a depressingly uplifting feel good movie about a group of senior citizens who reside at a home (well, actually a magnificent mansion) for musicians and singers (especially, but not exclusively, of the classical variety).  The premise of the film, if one wants to even call it that, is that the home is having serious financial difficulties, and if they don’t raise enough money at an annual benefit, they may have to close. 
The screenwriter here, Ronald Harwood, whose written some interesting scripts in the past (The Pianist, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) and some not so interesting ones (Australia), has fashioned a trifle of a film here (he wrote it as a vehicle for Tom Courtenay and Albert Finney, who both received Oscar noms for Harwood’s The Dresser, but Finney become ill and Billy Connolly took over his part).  There’s nothing much to the plot.  It’s almost insulting in a way.  Age old conflicts that are spoken of in terms of life and death are resolved in a matter of minutes.  And the central premise of the film, that of the home closing, never seriously drives the story and almost feels like an afterthought.  In fact, when the benefit is held, it’s sold out, but with such a small audience, no one will ever be able to convince me that the box office sales (even at Covent Garden prices, as Michael Gambon’s Elizabeth Taylor-caftan wearing drama queen director of the show claims they can charge) would remotely cover the electric bill for one month, let alone keep the whole place going for a year. 
But if Quartet is a soufflé, light and airy, that comes dangerously close to falling, it never does.  The movie may be a trifle, but the acting isn’t.  This is a wonderful collection of old (both literally and figuratively) pros like the aforementioned Gambon, as well as Maggie Smith, the diva (okay, type casting); Tom Courtenay (the stoic); and Connelly (the satyr).  All are expert, but most delightful has to be Pauline Collins, as the hysterical and heartbreaking ditzy life force who is starting to demonstrate the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and steals every scene she’s in.
Hoffman uses all his experience as an actor to grand effect.  He knows better than to get in anybody’s way and that his chief responsibility is to make sure the actors get to do what they do best—act.   Based on the resulting film, it was a very wise choice. 

FIVE GREATEST FEMALE PERFORMANCES IN FILM (LEAD): I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.


The next in my series of five greats: The Five Greatest Female Performances in American and British Film (lead)

greta_garbo_camilleGreta Garbo in Camille

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long Day's Journey Into Night 3

Katherine Hepburn in Long Day’s Journey into
Night

 

 

 

 

 

maggiesmithMaggie Smith in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

 

 

 

 

Gloria-Swanson-in-Sunset-BoulevardGloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard

 

 

 

 

 

 

all about eveBette Davis in All Bout Eve