The Best Picture Oscar will go to either Joy, The Revenant, Spotlight or The Big Short…period. The Martian will be nominated, of course, but that’s where it stops. (Sasha Stone, who just arrived in Savannah, insists it’s The Martian vs. Spotlight.) Steve Jobs has dropped in estimation and is probably out. Carol looks like a struggle. Room will be nominated but that’s all. Bridge of Spies, meh. There should be renewed excitement about Love & Mercy but the stubbornness of the “yeah, okay but it came out last June” crowd is almost breathtaking. Brooklyn is exquisite but quiet. Beasts of No Nation, Mad Max: Fury Road, Suffragette, Son of Saul…all mesmerizing. The Hateful Eight is already a punching bag, but wait until the Samuel L. Jackson blowjob + “n” word controversies heat up.
According to a just-posted Gold Derby chart, the leading contenders for Best Supporting Actor are, in this order, Spotlight‘s Michael Keaton (sure), Beast of No Nation‘s Idris Elba (of course), Bridge of Spies‘ Mark Rylance (probably the favorite to win), Spotlight‘s Mark Ruffalo (full agreement but if he and Keaton are both nominated they’ll cancel each other out) and…The Revenant‘s Tom Hardy? Sez who? Based on what? And Love & Mercy‘s Paul Dano is in sixth place?
Will you wake up, please? Paul Dano should be in the #1 spot among all the potential BSA nominees. Ask the Movie Godz — his inhabiting of Brian Wilson is/was the stuff of legend…period. Stop this ridiculous “yeah but Love & Mercy came out last summer and Roadside isn’t a regular Oscar player” crap. Hardy out for now, Keaton or Ruffalo but not both, Rylance in, Elba probably…Dano is in.
If and when Robert DeNiro‘s performance as Jennifer Lawrence‘s dad in Joy results in Best Supporting Actor heat (and I know nothing about that), Dan Mazer‘s Dirty Grandpa (Lionsgate, 1.22.16) might get in the way. Maybe, possibly. DeNiro’s grandpa to Zac Efron, verbatim: “The greatest gift a grandson can give his grandfather is a hot college girl who wants to have unprotected sex with him before he dies.”
I wanted to chuckle at or…you know, quietly enjoy Jared Hess‘s Don Verdean (Lionsgate, theatrical/VOD 12.11), a satire of rightwing religious foolery and fraudulence. But it just wouldn’t let me go there, and I’m saying this as a fan of Sam Rockwell, who plays the titular character, a bullshit archeologist and discoverer of Biblical relics. The only good thing is New Zealand-based actor-comedian Jermaine Clement, who plays Boaz, a corruptible Israeli guide.
A New York-area research screening of Liza Johnson‘s Elvis & Nixon (Amazon/Bleecker Street, 2016) happens tonight. We’re all presuming that Kevin Spacey will deliver a better-than-decent Richard Nixon, and that Michael Shannon‘s Elvis…who knows? But the supporting cast looks great — Alex Pettyfer, Colin Hanks, Evan Peters, Johnny Knoxville, Sky Ferreira and Tracy Letts. Unless it’s a disaster I’m presuming Elvis & Nixon will have its first peek-out at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
How many of us have visited the Oval Office, or even the West Wing of the White House? I’ll almost certainly never go there, but I’ve visited highly detailed, movie-set recreations of the Kennedy and Nixon Oval offices, and in a way they were almost cooler than the real thing.
It was 20 years and nine months ago that Oliver Stone and his publicist Stephen Rivers allowed me to pay a brief visit to the Nixon West Wing — Oval Office, cabinet room, hallways, various offices, etc. Production designer Victor Kempster had built the amazingly detailed set (including an outdoor portion with grass and bushes) on a massive Sony sound stage.
I was let in just after Stone and his cast (including Anthony Hopkins) and crew had finished filming. It was sometime around late February or early March of ’95. I wrote up my impressions for an L.A. Times Syndicate piece. Nixon opened on 12.20.95.
A guy asked me this morning if I was going to post some kind of review of Reed Morano‘s Meadowland (Cinedigm, 10.16). My first response: To what end?
Meadowland is about the Big Numb of grief. Grief wanderings, grief enzymes, grief injections. Grief as a huge swimming pool filled with jello and no escape ladders. In short, the kind of movie that you definitely want to visit and immerse yourself in. But don’t listen to me. Listen to Guardian critic Jordan Hoffman, who has called Meadowland “terrific.”
None of Meadowland works unless you buy that a young couple can leave their three- or four-year-old kid inside a bathroom inside a service station with the dad waiting outside, and then the dad knocks on the door and…nothing. The kid just magically disappears. No trace of him here, there, anywhere. And no one ever sees him or reports him. The vanishing. Speaking as a father of two sons I didn’t buy it at all and so the whole movie, for me, was untrustworthy bullshit. A highly indulgent downhead sink-in.
Room Conversation #1: A guy who runs a Los Angeles screening series always asks the attendees (mixed but mostly female, mostly in their 50s, 60s and 70s) to vote for their favorites at the end of each nine-week term. He told me two days ago that “out of nine films (which included a couple of biggies) Room won with more votes than all the other eight combined.” My response: “I’d like to say ‘to each his own’ despite my negative gut response.”
Room Conversation #2: A major print critic from south of the Mason-Dixon line wrote me yesterday. “Finally saw Room tonight,” he wrote. “You were spot-on. I felt fucking trapped in that movie.” My response: “Thank you!”
I landed in Savannah yesterday around 4 pm, give or take. Hello again, 19th Century romance and genteel hospitality and the feeling of being surrounded by history and ghosts. Warmth, ancient trees, flatness, fragrances, serenity. And great food. It’s been lightly raining here but the clouds will begin to push on today, or so I’m told.
By 7 pm I was watching Tom McCarthy‘s Spotlight — yes, again — at the SCAD Trustees theatre on Broughton Street. I sat next to Hollywood Reporter award-season analyst Scott Feinberg, who had just moderated a panel on documentary filmmakers and also interviewed Tab Hunter re Tab Hunter Confidential. We all went to the after-party at Savannah’s Brice Hotel, which happens to be where I’m staying.