I just want it understood that this Boyhood-over-Birdman thing in the current Best Picture graph is strictly a meditative exercise. My gut tells me it’s almost certainly Birdman but I’ve been saying that all along and…I don’t know but maybe I’m tired of myself and all of my creations. I just wanted to try this out and think it through and see how it feels and so on. Nothing more than that. It’s a dance step, a theory, a posturing, a hypothetical.
If this was a bit earlier in the season and my own passionate preferences had something to do with these charts, I would have Snowpiercer‘s Tilda Swinton in slot #5 for Best Supporting Actress…hands down, no question. Laura Dern has it now because she’s been campaigning and out there and pushing the ball along. What am I saying? I don’t know what I’m talking about. I couldn’t suss the fifth slot so I went to Tom O’Neil‘s Gold Derby chart and decided to follow suit. I actually didn’t like her character very much in Wild. I hate people who insist on unhappiness-suppressing cheerfulness all the time. As for the fifth slot in the Supporting Actor chart, I completely agree with handing it to The Gambler‘s John Goodman. I think he was better in his way than The Judge‘s Robert Duvall was in his.
Birdman‘s Michael Keaton isn’t exactly a great, screeching, large-winged bird (I know — a lazy analogy), but he’s been at the top of the Best Actor list so long he may as well be. The Theory of Everything‘s Eddie Redmayne is the puppy everyone wants to pat and hug and nominate for transforming himself into a contorted, bespectacled, wheelchair-bound guy we’ve all been reading and thinking about for decades. Selma‘s David Oyelowo is a kind of oratorical stallion — an avatar or carrier of a spirit that has been in the air for 50-odd years. The Imitation Game‘s Benedict Cumberbatch is a kind of distingushed genius otter, as Cumberbatch himself with tell you, with a special sway over the ladies. Nightcrawler‘s Jake Gyllenhaal is a kind of grinning nocturnal lizard, claws out, tongue flicking. Foxcatcher‘s Steve Carell is an exhausted wildebeest who’s falling behind in the herd and terrified of approaching predators. Bird, puppy, stallion, otter, lizard, wildebeest…check.
Has there ever been less of a pulse in the Best Actress race? The passion out there is nonexistent. Nobody is saying anything about Julianne Moore except that she’s got it in the bag, and nobody has said a damn thing about that dutifully morose film she’s the star of, Still Alice. If another lead actress performance had any kind of serious competitive heat I would launch a “STOP JULIANNE MOORE” campaign just to take this race off life support…but nobody has the narrative to challenge Moore except, possibly, Cake‘s Jennifer Aniston, who delivered the goods and has campaigned her way into serious contention. Moore’s narrative is “Still Alice might be a Lifetime movie but she’s due” while the Aniston narrative is “Cake might not be a great drama but Jennifer’s fighting to get out of the light comedy/tabloid-queen straightjacket, and you have to hand it to her for giving it hell.” All I know is that every year you hear passionate feelings about this or that Best Actress contender…”Wow, that performance was her best, it got to me, it touched me deep down, I’m telling my friends” and so on. But there’s been absolutely no discussion out there about Moore’s Still Alice performance…no passion, no talk, no arguments, NOTHING.
Ava DuVernay‘s Selma will open wide on Friday, January 9th, but in Selma, Alabama — the smallish “Black Belt” city where the “Bloody Sunday” beatings happened on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Sunday, 3.7.65, and where a portion of the film was shot last summer — the film will play for free at the Selma Walton theatre for the entire month, day and night, for roughly three weeks straight.
Paramount is picking up the tab in apparent gratitude to the city for hosting the Selma production and, I gather, to give it a little boost in terms of attracting tourism.
Located on the banks of the Alabama river and known as “the Queen City,” Selma sounds statistically like a fairly poor town. It’s in a fairly remote area, about 50 miles from any major interstate highway. The Wiki page says the citizenry was 80% black as of 2010 census, and the population hasn’t risen above 20,000 in well over a decade. 14 years ago the median household income for a family was $28,345. About 26.9% of families and 31.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 41.8% of those under age 18 and 28.0% of those age 65 or over.
Yesterday’s general response to Mark Schultz‘s Twitter and Facebook tirades against Foxcatcher and particularly director Bennett Miller was that (a) it was late arriving, given that Schultz hadn’t said a thing before, (b) he seemed awfully angry and (c) he may have downed a few brewskis before tapping out his thoughts. Today he offered an apology for the anger levels but didn’t back away from his resentment of Miller for having indicated in the film that Schultz and the late John duPont (i.e., Steve Carell‘s character) may have had some kind of homoerotic connection. Schultz is “under contact to support the movie until the Oscars” (hah!) but post-Oscars he’ll unload with Katie Couric, he said.