“One of the highest tides in its history brought Venice to a virtual halt, rekindling a debate over a plan to build moveable flood barriers in an effort to save the lagoon city from high tides,” says an AP story posted by the N.Y. Times at 4:19 pm.
“City officials said the tide peaked at 61 inches, well past the 40-inch flood mark, as strong winds pushed the sea into the city. Alarms went off at 6:37 a.m. to alert citizens, but many residents were taken by surprise because authorities had initially not forecast such a high water level.
“In St. Mark’s Square, one of the city’s lowest points, tourists tried to stay dry by hopping on cafe tables and chairs sticking out of the water. The water was so high that someone rowed a small speedboat across the wide square.”
A guy named Jameison just replied to my “Five Against The Rest” post, saying that I seem to be “still confused as to the fact that these charts reflect predictions as opposed to favorites.” And I said no, no, no to that. No longer!
“The favorites, for now, are the people and movies that Oscar prognosticator types like, believe in and vote for. Got it? The columnists, journalists and bloggers do a lot to set the stage, determine and lay down the perimeter wire, create the conversation, ignite the buzz. So to hell with that “let’s try and predict how those wonderful and fascinating Academy people might vote” mentality. The hell with it!
“I know as much if not more than your average Academy person does about what’s good and what isn’t and what will live on, and what people like myself and Poland and O’Neil and Carr and Stone and Faraci and Thompson and Hammond and Cieply and Tapley and Feinberg and Goldstein say and write counts to some extent (perhaps not a whole lot but certainly to some extent) in the ultimate configuration of nominees and winners. Along with the critics groups and the guilds, of course.
“So screw the tea leaves for now, okay? As far as I’m concerned there is only set of standards that matter right now, and those are my own and those who toil away at this racket and live with the passion of it four or five months out of the year. We are here, we care, we know what we know (and that ain’t hay), we believe, we are the champions.
Until, that is, the game changes shape with the voices of others. I realize, of course, that I try to discern the thinking and the sentiment out there as much as anyone else, but voices like ours count. To what extent is a matter of conjecture. But I hate the idea of being one of a number of sheep in the pasture going “baaah! baaah!”
In a Reuters interview that ran last Friday, Bolt voicer John Travolta said he “probably should have said yes” to making Frank Darabont‘s The Green Mile and yes to An Officer and a Gentleman. But I gave Richard Gere and Tom Hanks a career!” Is there any serious-minded Hanks film that is remembered with more revulsion than The Green Mile? I’m asking.
The Gold Derby Buzzmeter members who are standing up and showing support for The Visitor‘s Richard Jenkins as Best Actor are three — myself, The Envelope‘s Pete Hammond and N.Y. Post critic Lou Lumenick . The Gurus o’ Gold supporters are Indiewire‘s Eugene Hernandez and USA Today‘s Suzie Woz (on top of the double-voting Lumenick and Hammond). A total of five supporters out of the 16 who contribute to the Guru/Buzzmeter charts.
Clint Eastwood‘s Gran Torino (Warner Bros., 12.12) shows to select media tonight in Los Angeles at 8:30 pm (with a little meet-Clint cocktail party happening an hour before). It’s screening in Manhattan tomorrow, Wednesday, Friday and next Monday. The word will be filtering down pretty clearly by Wednesday, particularly about whether Clint is a Best Actor contender or not.
Valkyrie has been shown to some people in Los Angeles and it’s not a problem, I’m hearing. “It’s no Ishtar,” as a non-journalist put it last week. “It’s much better than anybody is right now thinking.” “A smart, crisp and efficient conspiracy thriller,” another guy says. “Like 36 Hours or Night of the Generals — one of those other WW II conspiracy thrillers that does its job, open and shut…bang. Bryan Singer is a very sharp director who knows exactly what he’s doing.” One guy told me that Tom Cruise‘s performance is a problem; another guy said he’s fine. “Very well acted by Terrence Stamp, Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Clarice von Houten,” says guy #2.
Kenneth Lonergan‘s Margaret was shot a couple of years ago but won’t be out until sometime in ’09. All sorts of legal problems have be-deviled it, I’m told. There was a really long cut. I guess that means what it means, but how could the guy who directed and wrote the straight and truthful You Can Count On Me mess things up so badly that Margaret hasn’t been shown to anyone I know, hasn’t been shown or booked at any festivals and Fox Searchlight hasn’t even assigned an ’09 release date?
The new high-def trailer for Susan Montford‘s While She Was Out (Anchor Bay, 12.12), which I can’t find an embed code for, is a much more slicker and sophisticated thing that the trailer that went up in late October. The movie is basically a damp and nocturnal Straw Dogs/Death Wish/Wait Until Dark in the suburbs (and in a soaked surburban forest during the third act) with Kim Basinger in the Dustin Hoffman/Charles Bronson/Audrey Hepburn role.
“It’s funny, but when you’re in the business, you can tell something in the first minutes of watching, particularly in terms of the actors. And at the start of Frozen River, the first thing I saw I went, ‘Oh! oh!’ I don’t even know the director (Courtney Hunt), but there was such a documentary feel to that performance by Melissa Leo. I don’t know Melissa Leo, but that’s an extraordinary piece of work. There’s not a false moment. I felt she knew it and lived that life.” — Dustin Hoffman, quoted in an an 11.26 Variety posting.
Add this endorsement to Roger Ebert‘s “Deep Vote” endorsement (“Best performance of the year, hands down…the public isn’t sure who Leo is, but she’s been working since 1984 and has 76 film and TV credits…every actor in the business has worked with her, except for Kevin Bacon…if they work together, the Game grows exponentially…actors nominate actors”), and you’re left with a growing feeling that Leo’s stock is rising.
To put it another way, it would be very gratifying to me personally if she didn’t get the blow-off that the Gurus o’ Gold, those Zelig-minded, sometimes-behind-the-curve tea-leaf readers, seem to think may be in the cards, as evidenced by their placing Leo second (under Michelle Williams) on their Dark Horse contender chart.
Tina Brown‘s nomination of Rachel Maddow to host Meet The Press is inspired. She’d be great, she’d keep things lively, she knows how to tapdance but not be overly deferential or softball (like the show’s temporary host Tom Brokaw clearly was last weekend during his Laura Bush interview), and she’d bring in the ratings.
“If Obama is post-racial, Maddow is post-gender,” writes Brown, “divested of hair-frosted femininity in the anchor genre and more appealing because of it. Like him, she’s a calm, unflappable new era phenomenon. Sure, she’s a lefty, and in the past week she’s been swinging away at Obama’s cabinet choices, but I suspect she’s ambitious enough to dial it back if she had to. (She also has that weird TV gene that’s so hungry for air time she’d probably insist on keeping her five-day job at MSNBC. Russert himself was on every show except Project Runway.)”
Brown allows that “maybe this kind of seismic move asks too much of NBC brass.
“NBC seems to be paralyzed by the sense that whomever they chose has to be another Tim Russert. Not so. Russert defined an era, but that era is over. It’s as if in the months since he died the hands of the clock have spun with accelerated speed, leaving us all with a desire for reinvention. There’s been an Obama effect in every sphere of business from General Motors to network TV.
“Meet the Press has to change not just the host but the show itself. It may be successful now, but the winds of change could suddenly engulf it as they have the giants of print.”