Monday, December 31, 2012

So long, 2012

Well, it has been quite the year for Ms Meryl.  An Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA (all for The Iron Lady), a great performance in Hope Springs this summer, and the completion of filming the much anticipated August: Osage County.  I'm looking forward to the next couple of months of awards season, seeing Meryl at the Globes, where she's again nominated for Hope Springs (and possibly presenting Best Actor Drama).  I've posted before how I would love to see her present Daniel Day-Lewis the Oscar in February, and then receive it right back from him a year later.

The other day I came across a couple of videos on youtube of celebrities talking about Meryl.  All good stuff of course.  This is the shit I totally eat up...all the hyperbole regarding her acting ability.  I'll leave you all with these two videos to help ring in the new year.  Have a safe and happy 2013.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

"August: Osage County" on The Guardian's list of top films to watch for in 2013

Earlier this week, Regina over at FYC Meryl Streep posted a link on the Meryl Streep forum (she's always more on top of things than I am) to a Guardian article listing August: Osage County as one of the "key" films to watch for in 2013.  Duh.   Here's what they had to say:

"Harvey Weinstein has thrown his muscle behind the eagerly awaited film version of August: Osange County, adapted from the Pultizer prize-winning play by Tracy Letts. It’s a barbed family drama from the heart of Oklahoma, starring Sam Shepard as a drunken former poet, Meryl Streep as his ailing wife and Julia Roberts as the daughter who comes home in the wake of a tragedy. All of them, surely, will be gunning for awards."

It's no secret how much I'm obsessed looking forward to this project, so obviously I agree that this will definitely be something to watch out for come awards season 2014.  Of course I'm not solely interested in Meryl getting awards, but as the Academy Awards is the best international benchmark for film acting recognition, I want Meryl to go down as history's best.  She already holds a comfortable lead in nominations with 17, but her career deserves to break the all-time record of four awards.  When that is done, there can be little debate about her being the greatest ever.  I know, I know, it's supposed to be about art and good film-making.  But every performance Meryl does is a masterpiece.  Unfortunately often only baity awards vehicles get a lot of word of mouth and marketing.  A push for Oscars falls into that category.   Some people think campaigning is sort of vulgar or that it bastardizes good works but I say if it gets people to see great movies that might actually require a little thinking or reflection, I'm all for it.   

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Meryl night #2 for the week

Good morning, all.  So pleased to have survived the latest Apocalyptic scare.  Maybe I'll make it to see August: Osage County after all.  As foretold in my lastest post, Annie came over last night for games, dinner, drinks and Meryl.  I have to make a brief mention of the menu because everything turned out yummy.  We started with a homemade butternut squash soup, followed by brown sugar-glazed meatloaf with garlic mashed potatoes and buttered peas.  After barely managing to motion our sated selves to the couch, we cued up the movie.

I thought The Bridges of Madison County would be a good installment for Annie's third Meryl night, as it's a very different character from both Sophie and Sister Aloysius.   Joe happened to mention during dinner that Francesca is possibly the most difficult role for him to find Meryl Streep in, meaning she completely becomes her character.   Annie was again very impressed by Meryl's convincing Italian (Iowatalian) accent, and I think she found it fun to see Meryl in a role as a middle-aged woman who's involved in a romantic, yet confusing and ultimately emotionally agonizing experience.

Last night kind of made me want to read Mia March's book The Meryl Streep Movie ClubI don't think I've written about this before, but I vaguely remember it being released this summer, and it's centered around a couple of women bonding over Meryl movies, beginning with Bridges.  So, as a true Meryl scholar (and sucker for stories aimed at women(?)), I should probably read it.   I suppose it's too late to be used as a stocking stuffer idea.  Damn.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

More evangelizing with Sophie

As many of you well know, one of my favorite pastimes is to expose people to the genius that is Meryl.  The most effective method I've found to accomplish this is to have friends over for dinner followed by a  screening of Meryl's magnum opus, Sophie's Choice.   And so it was last night, after a day of gift wrapping for me and board gaming for Joe, that our friends Katie and JR joined us by the fire for an evening of Meryl.  Both reportedly knew what "the choice" was, so that shock value was eliminated from the onset, but I don't think either had really ever seen a performance of Meryl's from before 2005.  Our friend Christina happened to stop by for about an hour of the movie.  She did not know "the choice" nor did she stay long enough to find out, so I guess I know who my next victim will be.

Katie and JR made a few comments that I tend to hear a lot from people during their first Sophie experience:  "Wow she really does sound Polish." "She was really pretty."  And the two of them were made a bit uncomfortable by the "third wheel" presence of Stingo in the film.  As usual, I'd occasionally take a glance at viewers to see how they were reacting, and there were definitely a lot of fixed gazes on the screen.  Some very quiet moments also demonstrated how captivating Meryl can be.   Despite an inopportune DVD malfunction during "the choice" scene, it was a good experience.  Katie and JR both said they enjoyed the film, particularly Meryl's performance.

On top of the fact that it's such a great individual acting performance from Meryl, I enjoy when people get exposed to stories that depict some of the atrocities that took place during World War II.   Joe remarked how insane it was that it took place within the last one hundred years.   When Nathan mentions in the movie the figure "six million Jews" being wiped out, for the first time in my mind I realized that that's 125% the current population of Minnesota.  Sort of puts it into an even sadder perspective.

In what I'm calling an early Christmas present, our friend Annie is coming over tomorrow night for dinner, games and The Bridges of Madison County.  This will be Annie's third installment of Meryl evangelization, following Sophie's Choice and Doubt.  Two Meryl nights in one week!  Yes, that is what (however lame it may be) gets me excited on a Friday night.  Owning it.

Monday, December 17, 2012

McGregor and Upham share thoughts on "August: Osage County"

This weekend, a video surfaced of Ewan McGregor briefly discussing his experience with the recent filming of August: Osage County.  

In addition, I just came across an interview with Misty Upham, who plays housekeeper Johnna, in which she too fields questions about her participation in the film.  The role of Johnna, although low on lines, has a major impact on the play.  She's present in a huge number of scenes, sort of in the background while the family is at each other's throats.  Upham says some complimentary things about Meryl in the article, my favorite of which being: "I took any chance I could to watch Meryl live. When she worked, everyone watched with awe. Even the props department. It was inspiring to see such respect for a true icon of our age. Amazing."   Oh, the shit I live for.

I'll likely never obsess over a film more than I have about this one (dear lord I hope not anyway).  As I've posted previously, I'm a huge fan of the play and story, so the fact that Meryl is participating in a film version with a huge likelihood as an awards vehicle is super exciting for a Streeper like myself.  I can only imagine how single-minded I'll be on this blog a year from now.   Looking forward to it. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Meryl Streep receives Golden Globe nomination for work in "Hope Springs"

This morning the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced its nominees for film and television "excellence" for 2012.  As expected, Meryl was included in the list of actresses in a musical or comedy for her role as Kay Soames in Hope Springs.  Her fellow nominees are as follows:

Emily Blunt (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen)
Judi Dench (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)
Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Maggie Smith (Quartet

Of the above list, Meryl is probably in second or third place as far as likelihood of winning.  I'd be amazed if Jennifer Lawrence didn't take this handily, although HFPA historically loves Meryl, as this is is 27th nomination overall (a record of course).   The Golden Globe ceremony will be held on Sunday, January 13.   The full list of nominees can be seen here

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

SAG nominations announced

And they didn't include Meryl.  This was completely expected.  Here are the five for Actress in Leading role:

1. Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
2. Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone)
3. Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
4. Helen Mirren (Hitchcock)
5. Naomi Watts (The Impossible)

I'm a little surprised by Mirren.  But with Quvenzhane Wallis inelligible, Mirren's likely the fifth slot.  I would've been less surprised by Emmanuelle Riva over Mirren, considering it's only actors voting, and although not well known, I could see Riva's performance being rather striking to a lot of actors, especially those over 50.

Tomorrow is likely to provide a different result for Meryl when the Golden Globe nominations are announced.  This morning's announcement pretty much put the nail in the coffin for Meryl's Oscar nominations chances for Hope Springs, but I've seen weirder things happen.  Stay tuned.

Full results are here

Monday, December 10, 2012

First official "Wish List" entry: Catherine the Great

Over the past few weeks of Meryl news searching, I began to put some thought into certain characters or roles I would love to see her play.  I posted several months ago that I'd be interested to see her in a film version of Jonathan Franzen's book "The Corrections," but I didn't speculate much further than that on possible other roles.    Two years ago one of my choices would've been "Violet" from August: Osage County, but the gods went straight to work on that one for me, so cross it off.  And since Into the Woods is already a rumored project for Meryl, I can't really include that in my "wish list," unless it eventually turns out that she does not in fact portray Sondheim's witch.

The role that has been particularly burning on my mind most recently would be a portrayal of 18th century Russian empress Catherine II, better knows as Catherine the Great.  I'm guessing she occurred to me because one,  this summer I listened to the audio book of Robert K. Massie's intensive biography of the well-known tsar,  and two, I'm currently reading a book about the British monarchy.  I swear it has nothing to do with Will and Kate's royal bun in the oven.  I'm just a fan of biographical histories of world leaders (see my Hillary 2016 prediction from last week).

There are countless reasons Catherine the Great would be a compelling role for Meryl, and yet an actual film being made poses just as many real obstacles.  One of the most juicy aspects would be the fact that Catherine was German but essentially usurped her husband's Russian throne.  She also spoke and read/wrote in French.   This would be an absolute accent tour de force for Meryl:  speaking German, and Russian/French with German accents.   The drawback however is that if Catherine did know English, she likely rarely used it.  Therefore a film that were essentially a foreign language film with an American, English-speaking actress in the title role may be a tough sell.  I wouldn't want to see another situation (i.e. The House of the Spirits) where events take place in a non English-speaking country and yet it's filmed in English.  They would perhaps have to center the film around an event in Catherine's life in which she corresponded regularly with English speakers, again assuming she knew the language.  John Paul Jones was a Scottish-American naval commander whom Catherine employed later in life during the Russo-Turkish wars.  He and his relationship to the empress could make a fascinating focal point around which a semi-factual story could be feasibly based.

So, let's assume there's a screenwriter out there who desperately wants to write something about Catherine the Great, and even has Meryl in mind for the title role.  Conceding the chances of that are dismal, the film, as alluded to above, would have to take place near the end of Catherine's reign.  She died at the age of 67 in 1796.  Meryl will turn 64 next summer, and although she can still believably portray characters in their early 50's, if she were to play Catherine now, we'd realistically need the film to take place no later than 1779.   That would still encompass the majority of the events of the American Revolutionary War (during which she refused aid to British King George III) and the French Revolution of the late 1780's.   Were a film to not be made for another ten years, the options would obviously become more limited.  Portraying a woman 20 years her junior (which Meryl could certainly do) would pose a pretty daunting challenge.  Although we're somewhat solaced with Sally Field's recent successful turn as Mary Lincoln.   

From what I understand, there has never really been a memorable feature film about Catherine the Great.  Catherine Zeta-Jones played her in a tv movie in the mid 90's (which I haven't seen), but other than that, nothing on a larger scale has been tackled in the last forty years.  I think it's time.  So, I release this idea into the universe. Perhaps the challenge will be taken up by an enterprising young screenwriter who wants to win Meryl a record-breaking fifth Oscar.  Yes, fifth.  I'm already counting the 2014 win for August: Osage County. 


Sunday, December 9, 2012

More critics' awards

Well, Joe and I made it home safely from Oklahoma, despite near blizzard conditions here in Minneapolis.  It was 50 degrees here on Thursday.  There is now a foot of snow on the ground and tomorrow's low will be around 8.  Ugh.   Inclement weather in the midwest wasn't enough to stop the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and Boston Society of Film Critics from awarding their top prizes in a variety of categories.   Jennifer Lawrence helped cement her Oscar frontrunner status by being recognized by the L.A. critics for The Silver Linings Playbook in a tie with Emmanuelle Riva for Amour.  The bigger story here is Riva, however, as she not only tied with Lawrence for L.A., but won Boston and the New York Film Critics Online. 

There has been a lot of question about whether Riva will have enough support to garner an
Academy Award nomination, particularly because she's in a foreign film of the same language as another contender, former Oscar winner Marion Cotillard in Rust and Bone.  I wager however that it's now more likely that if only one of the French women is recognized, it'll be Riva.  I haven't seen either performance, but am far more interested in Riva's turn as an aging woman with dementia.

If I had to predict a top five for Oscar as of today:

1. Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
2. Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
3. Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
4. Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)
5. Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone)

Of course this could so easily be way off, especially that fifth slot.  We've can't count out Naomi Watts, Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren,  Judi Dench.  But the top 3-4 seem like pretty good bets these days, unlike Meryl, who is likely going to have to settle for a Golden Globe nomination Thursday.  But as I've said before, things could get really shaken up on Wednesday when the SAG nominations are announced. 

It's also fun to see how entire films are matching up, specifically, both Silver Linings Playbook and The Master which are both Weinstein Company productions.  Neither are likely to win best picture at the Oscars the way things are currently headed.  Considering Harvey has won the past two years with The King's Speech and The Artist, it's probably best if we're more interested in him pushing August: Osage County next year.  Four in a row will not happen.  Plus, if neither Jennifer Lawrence and Philip Seymour Hoffman end up ultimately winning at the Academy Awards, all the more reason he'll push extra hard for Meryl in 2013-14, as he will have basically been skunked this year.   The precedent was nicely set for Meryl and Harvey with The Iron Lady.   Ba-ring it. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Awards season really begins

This week we've seen awards given out by the New York Film Critics Circle and National Board of Review.  As most of you know, although I enjoy seeing how all categories turn out, my blogging efforts will focus on the Best Actress race, particularly as it pertains to Meryl.  I concede that Meryl will NOT be winning an Oscar this season for her work in Hope Springs.  Even a nomination would be a huge surpriseWith that, we are highly unlikely to see her name mentioned by any critics' groups.  As I've stated before, we can however expect her to get a Golden Globe nomination for Actress in a Musical or Comedy.

Keeping an eye on how these critics' awards play out can help us get a sense if there's any chance for Meryl beyond the Globes.  The NYFCC awarded Rachel Weisz for her work in Deep Blue Sea.  From what I've read, it took multiple ballots to reach that conclusion, with Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook (which I'm seeing with Joe and Scooter tomorrow) a close second and Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty not far behind that.  Today the NBR awarded Chastain their prize.  I think we can realistically expect that Chastain and Lawrence are good bets for Oscar nominations (sort of old news).  Weisz, despite this win, would be a tougher sell, but this certainly didn't hurt her chances.

Meryl is now out of the top ten on Gold Derby, even behind Laura Linney.  Really?  Well, things could shake up next week, as both the Globe and SAG nominations are revealed.  Meryl is almost a sure thing for a Golden Globe nomination, but far less likely for SAG.  If by some strange scenario Meryl happens to get nominated for a SAG, then her chances at a 18th Oscar nomination will skyrocket.  Until then, we'll just continue to let the results roll in.   The Los Angeles Film Critics Association announces on Sunday. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Meryl bits and bytes

I have a few brief things to cover in this post.  Firstly, the Hope Springs DVD will be released on Tuesday (December 4th).  I'll probably wait a couple of weeks until I can buy it for like $5 used on Amazon.  I'm most looking forward to a featurette on Meryl and Tommy Lee Jones in the special features section. 

Secondly, I found an Instagram photo/quote from Juliette Lewis from the wrap party of August: Osage County.  This is the shit I live for.  Lewis calls Meryl and co-star Margo Martindale two of her "heroes" and describes the characters as "some of the most intense and challenging."   I also came across a photo of Meryl with Misty Upham, who plays Johnna.  From the look of it I'm guessing Meryl's skin hasn't seen sunlight in the past forty years.  I suppose that's how she stays so young-looking.  

Lastly, Meryl was seen hobnobbing with Secretary of State (and 2016 president-elect (fingers crossed)) Hillary Clinton at the Kennedy Center Honors this weekend.   Earlier this year there was speculation about the possibilities of a Clinton biopic, with Ms Meryl in the title role.  Of course there is no real plan for such a project, but you never know.  If Clinton were to run for president in four years and get elected, and then reelected, it'd be worth a film.  The problem is that Meryl is basically the same age as Clinton so, doing retrospective work of her as first lady in the 1990's when Hillary and Meryl were both in their mid 40's may not be practical if Meryl were in her mid 70's come 2025.   I'd settle for someone else portraying Clinton if I get to have her succeed Obama in the White House.  Cute pic, ladies. 


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Snubs #2: "Marvin's Room"

Jeeze, it's been since the inaugural post of this section on May 21st that I've covered a "Snub."  For my second entry, I've chosen 1996's drama Marvin's Room.  Meryl stars alongside Diane Keaton and Leonardo DiCaprio in Scott McPherson's adaptation of the play by the same name.   Incidentally, this was Meryl's second of what is now five films that were adapted from a play (Plenty, Marvin's Room, Dancing at Lughnasa, Doubt and August: Osage County).

This film is a good case of the what I consider the Academy spreading the wealth in Best Actress.  Meryl had been nominated the year before for The Bridges of Madison County.  For Marvin's Room she earned a Golden Globe nod for Best Actress-Drama and as part of the cast for SAG.  Her co-star Diane Keaton was nominated for the Globe, SAG and Oscar, winning none.  In the film Meryl plays Lee, sister to Bessie (Keaton).  The two sisters have not seen each other in 20 years, as Lee left the Floridian family to move to Ohio with her husband.  Bessie, who now has leukemia, stayed behind to care for their ailing father.  Lee pays a visit to have her and her sons' blood tested as a possible life-saving marrow match for Lee.

What I really like about Meryl's performance in this film is that, with the exception of her sort of campy performances as Mary Fisher (She-Devil) and Madeline Ashton (Death Becomes Her), this is the first role where we really get to see Meryl play a serious character who isn't particularly likable. Some may insert Lindy Chamberlain here, but I disagree.  People didn't like Lindy's public persona.  But in A Cry in the Dark, we get an intimate look and Lindy the woman, and I found her nothing but likeable and someone with whom to empathize.   Lee conversely reminds me of a cranky, middle-aged,  small-town neighborhood mom.  I know the type well.  In short, Lee's an incredibly selfish person who doesn't treat her family very well.  Yet, Meryl (again) convinces me.  Despite me having seen her in countless "nice" roles, I forget it's anyone other than mean Lee.

Of course when there's a story that basically involves two lead women, it's a tough sell to push both for awards.  Bessie is the meatier of the two roles.  She's the super sweet caregiver who stayed to care for an ill family member, and on top of that, she gets diagnosed with cancer.  A bit heavier and a bigger vote-getting role.  The film was distributed by Miramax, and in the mid 90's I wasn't really paying attention to things as closely as I do today, so I'm not sure what the campaigning was like then.  My guess is that the Weinsteins saw Keaton's role as the better vehicle for awards that year.

The Oscar nominees were as follows:

Brenda Blethyn (Secrets & Lies)
Diane Keaton (Marvin's Room)
Frances McDormand (Fargo)
Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient)
Emily Watson (Breaking the Waves)

Frances McDormand took the award for her portrayal as a Minnesota homicide detective in the Coen brothers' quirky noir piece.  Don't hate, but I've never seen the film.  I know, I know.  This is particularly strange considering I was born and raised in the North Star State.  I can remember seeing previews for the film when I was 16 and asking my dad why the characters were talking the way they were.  Evidently my Midwestern accent wasn't that strong because their speech seemed completely foreign to me.  Neither have I seen Secrets and Lies nor Breaking the Waves.  I'm definitely going to make a point of watching Fargo, and with what I've read about Secrets and Lies, I may have to give that one a look as well.  The English Patient was super boring the first time I saw it, but that was a huge film that year, again produced by Miramax.  Blethyn did win the Globe for Lies, but McDormand won the SAG, so I suppose she would've been the frontrunner. Although if Madonna won the Globe over McDormand for Evita, who knows?

Bottom line: Keaton deserved her nomination, and again, pulling a Thelma & Louise with a double lead nomination is a pretty tall task; it's much more common in supporting.  Considering Emily Watson wasn't nominated for the SAG, I say she would've been the odd woman out had Meryl snuck in the top five for Oscar. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Screenplay thoughts from "August: Osage County" writer Tracy Letts

Happy Thanksgiving.  I have many things for which to be thankful this year:  family, friends, health, home, Meryl.  In no particular order.  I'm very excited to indulge in the great American pastime of overeating in about two hours...for about two hours.

Yesterday I came across an article from the Los Angeles Times which has a few quotes from playwright Tracy Letts regarding his own upcoming film adaptation of the play August: Osage County.  Have I mentioned this movie before?  As we know, filming wrapped last week.  I'll let you guys read the article, but I was pleased to read Letts reporting that he attempted to remain very faithful to the original play saying, "it's very recognizably the same piece."  Of course he's taken some things out (like scenes with Sheriff Deon Gibeau) and perhaps rephrased a few lines that might sound a little too theatrical onscreen, but I think he's likely kept the juiciest stuff that has made the story so memorable. 

Letts's two previous plays for which he adapted a screenplay, Bug and Killer Joe, were not exactly blockbusters.  Neither of those plays were as wildly successful commercially or critically as was August: Osage County, however.   And with the star-studded cast they lined up for its film adaptation, I'm optimistic that there's a better chance of it doing well.   I don't need it to make $200 million at the box office.  I just want it to win Meryl her fourth Oscar.   

Saturday, November 17, 2012

"August: Osage County"--that's a wrap

Filming has evidently been completed on the set of Meryl's latest film project, August: Osage County.  This means that all of the footage for which Meryl will hopefully receive her fourth Academy Award has already been shot and recorded.   It reminds me of a thought I had about a month ago watching Katharine Hepburn in The Lion in Winter.  It was interesting to think that most of the footage Hepburn shot for that film likely took place before she had won her second Oscar for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner in April 1968.   The Lion in Winter was of course released later in 1968, for which Hepburn won her second consecutive, and overall third Academy Award for Best Actress.  Fingers crossed that Meryl has similar luck in early 2014, sans tying with another actress.

The shoot was only about eight weeks long, but I suppose this was adequate, considering we know that the majority of the story takes place inside a single house.  I've been snooping around the internet for any tidbit of info I can find regarding shooting, promotional stills or quotes from cast and crew.  Lately the finds have been pretty sparse, but this week I was able to find a few photos from the wrap party for the film earlier this week.  Here's one of Meryl enjoying a glass of wine.  I also prefer the white.  Atta girl, Meryl.  

We can hopefully look forward to a few more formal production stills in the next few months.  Certainly the main film buzz these days centers around the current season's Oscar prognosticating, which is no doubt in full swing.  Come Monday, February 25 however, attention will begin to shift toward films of 2013.  It'll still be fun this season to look forward to a Golden Globe nomination for Meryl in Hope Springs, but I think her chances of an 18th Oscar nom for Springs are pretty bleak at this point.  Although she'll hopefully present Best Actor at the ceremony, quite possibly to Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln (which I'm seeing tomorrow btw).  That would be a fun sight, seeing Meryl and her male acting equivalent sharing the stage at the Academy Awards.  Even more fun would be if he handed the trophy right back to her for August: Osage County a year later.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Meryl up for Indie Film award

Ugh.  This is like week-old news but I figured I'd eventually have to comment on it.  I haven't bothered up to this point because it's small ball and pertains to a film that was released almost a year ago.  According to The Telegraph, both Meryl and Judi Dench have been nominated for Best Actress for the British Independent Film awards.   Dench is nominated for this year's The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, while Meryl is being recognized for her work in The Iron Lady, which was released in the U.K. in early January.  Considering Meryl has already won both the Golden Globe and Academy Award for her role in this film, I'm not getting particularly excited about the prospect of her winning this award some nine months later.  However, it's nice to see Meryl recognized, and it's been five days since I've blogged so this fills the void.  The nominees for Best Actress are as follows:

Alice Lowe (Sightseers)
Andrea Riseborough (Shadow Dancer)
Elle Fanning (Ginger and Rosa)
Judi Dench (The Best Exotic Merigold Hotel)
Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)

I really don't know what to expect or predict with this lineup.  I want to say Meryl will run away with this but I know very  little about the history of these awards and how they tend to go. We'll just have to wait until December 9th when the recipients are announced.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

"August: Osage County" promo flyer pics

Before I discuss this info I just have to say yay America and yay Minnesota!  Great choices on president and Minnesota ballot initiatives.  Ok.  Thanks to Regina over at FYC Meryl Streep, we get a small glimpse of Meryl as "Violet" in a new promotional flyer for August: Osage County.   It's a rather small pic (of a pic) but it also shows head shots of Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis, Julianne Nicholson and Ewan McGregor.  I agree and have mentioned before that Meryl's wig reminds me of her look in Silkwood, which also takes place in Oklahoma.  In my last post I was wondering when we could expect some official photos from the film.  Regina seems to think we can expect them rather soon, as we know filming will be wrapping up by the end of the month.  Here's hopin'. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

"August: Osage County" production design

I came across an article in which David Gropman, the production designer for August: Osage County, is interviewed about his work on the upcoming film.  I'll let you have a read, but it was fun to learn that this is the same man who worked on Marvin's Room and Doubt.   He's also billed as the designer for Life of Pi, which I have yet to see, but looks incredibly visually striking.  Thanks to my obsession with Meryl and her participation in August, I'm learning a bit more about what an enormous undertaking making a film actually is.  This film doesn't have super high production costs, but it's basically mostly shot in a single house with no major special effects or lavish scenes.  After reading this piece however, I realize that there is so much detail that we often take for granted in creating a believable visual setting for a story.  I also learned that the film takes place in 1998, which is a bit earlier than I had previously thought, but that matters little.

Filming is set to wrap up around Thanksgiving, so hopefully in the next couple of months we may get a screen capture or two of miss Meryl in her role.  I don't really know what a typical timeline is for releasing production stills, but I recall our first glimpse of Meryl as Margaret Thatcher in February 2011, and that film was released ten months later.  If we're expecting a late 2013 release for August: Osage County, maybe January/February is realistic for some new pics.

Don't forget to vote!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Oscar chances update

As Barack Obama's statistical chances of a repeat win for the presidency continue to improve this week, Meryl's chances at repeat Oscar gold have drastically decreased.  Let's get something straight, however: no one, myself included, has been under any illusions that Meryl might actually win a fourth Oscar for Hope Springs. But for a brief period this fall, it looked like she stood a reasonable chance at an 18th nomination.  Gold Derby currently has her dropped to #11 on the Best Actress poll. With Jennifer Lawrence surging since Toronto for Silver Linings Playbook and both Helen Mirren (Hitchcock) and Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) recently added to the mix, Meryl has been left by the wayside.  I mean seriously, they now even have her behind Laura Linney, whose film Hyde Park on Hudson got shitty reviews, and Helen Hunt, who's being campaigned in supporting for Christ's sake. 

I think Meryl is still basically a lock for a Golden Globe nod, but I'm finding that the Best Actress Academy Award race is looking more like I thought it would earlier this year, despite the glimmer of hope over an early autumn fortnight.  Possibly not that dissimilar to what many Republicans are thinking to themselves right about now...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

More Meryl evangelizing

I believe in the church of Meryl.  After her successful introduction to Meryl's greatness several months ago with Sophie's Choice, our friend Annie agreed to come over last night for dinner, board games, wine, whiskey and Doubt.   It was the perfect night to stay in and watch this film.  Doubt has always reminded me of fall and with the rather sharp drop in Minnesota temperatures this week, we were able to enjoy a cozy fire during the movie. 

Similarly to when we watched Sophie, Annie commented on how perfect Meryl's Bronx accent was during the film.   What was also fun to watch was how Annie sort of updated Joe and me about what she thought was happening with each character, how she was forming opinions about them and whether or not Father Flynn "did it."  I think writer/director John Patrick Shanley, along with the excellent acting by the four main characters, accomplished that uneasy feeling of ambiguity they want us come away with.  

The three of us had a conversation after the movie, discussing plot details, the brilliance of the acting and screenplay, and the setting around which everything takes place.  It was fun talking about the dynamics of the Catholic church in the 1960's, the limited career opportunities for women in that era, and the plight of powerless minorities in a very different America.  In particular I found a new appreciation for just how fantastic Viola Davis is in her role as Mrs. Miller.  

I love this movie and story and would've loved to see it on stage.  I'll settle for the world premiere of Doubt at the Minnesota Opera in January.  Super jazzed to see Denyce Graves for the first time in the role of Mrs. Miller.  John Patrick Shanley is the librettist and we all know how much a certain someone enjoys opera.  Might I have a run-in...? 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Meryl up for a few People's Choice Awards

I really don't care about theses awards, but a fine blogger I'd be if I didn't at least mention this.  Most notably Meryl's up for "Favorite Dramatic Actress" and "Favorite Movie Icon."  What's strange is that the icon nominees are all women.  Of course anyone can be written in, but apparently the People's Choice folks don't think men are particularly iconic.  I can't imagine Meryl doesn't stand a pretty good chance at winning the icon award.  For crying out loud, one of the names listed on the site is Blythe Danner.   What?  I don't even know if Meryl would show up for these awards, but the show should be televised in early January.  Vote here!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Academy Awards analysis (1988)

It's been a slow week for Meryl in Oscar buzz for Hope Springs and filming updates on August: Osage County so I thought I'd tackle my next Academy Awards analysis.  In 1988 Meryl portrayed Lindy Chamberlain in A Cry in the Dark, a film about Australian Lindy Chamberlain and her daughter's snatching and ultimate death by a dingo.  I won't get too into the details of the real case that was going on during the filming of this movie (I'll save that for a film review and likely a "snub").  Suffice it to say, this was a rather contentious undertaking, as Streep was obviously an American in Australia portraying a very infamous woman.

This was Meryl's sixth nomination for Actress in a Leading role in the 1980's.  A better decade of varied roles for an actress has likely never happened, with the possible exception of Mery'ls current ten-year history of film making.  Here is the list of nominees for that year:

Glenn Close (Dangerous Liaisons)
Jodie Foster (The Accused)
Melanie Griffith (Working Girl)
Meryl Streep (A Cry in the Dark)
Sigourney Weaver (Gorillas in the Mist)

Jodie Foster came away with the first of her two Oscars.  She would take her second only three years later for The Silence of the Lambs, which is possibly my all-time favorite film.

Glenn Close had a pretty damn good decade herself, with five total nominations (three in supporting).   No wins for her, however.   I can't believe I've never seen Dangerous Liaisons; it's the only one of the five performances listed above I haven't seen.   Sigourney Weaver was a double nominee that year (supporting in Working Girl).   She and Close were probably gnashing their teeth at this 26 year-old taking the prize after the dues they had paid.  Griffith was great, but in my opinion likely 5th place that year.  Of Meryl's five losses for Oscar in the 1980's, this and The French Lieutenant's Woman were two performances that arguably were the best of their respective year.  I'll go over this in a future snub post eventually, but considering the frequency with which Meryl had been recently nominated, fatigue was likely setting in.  It also would've been her third award in nine years.  Yeah, wasn't gonna happen. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Meryl's Oscar nominations

The other day I was looking at the page layout for this blog and noticed that I had just a little bit of space for another tag label.  Wondering what I might eventually fill it with, I thought it would be a good idea to have an easy way to see a full list of Meryl's Oscar nominations with one click from the main page.  Considering that Ms. Streep's Academy Awards history is perhaps the greatest cinematic feat a film actor has ever achieved, it's fitting that visitors to this site will much more easily be able to see a full list.  Without further ado:

1978--The Deer Hunter (Actress in a Supporting Role)
1979--Kramer vs Kramer (Actress in a Supporting Role)*
1981--The French Lieutenant's Woman (Actress in a Leading Role)
1982--Sophie's Choice (Actress in a Leading Role)*
1983--Silkwood (Actress in a Leading Role)
1985--Out of Africa (Actress in a Leading Role)
1987--Ironweed (Actress in a Leading Role)
1988--A Cry in the Dark (Actress in a Leading Role)
1990--Postcards from the Edge (Actress in a Leading Role)
1995--The Bridges of Madison County (Actress in a Leading Role)
1998--One True Thing (Actress in a Leading Role)
1999--Music of the Heart (Actress in a Leading Role)
2002--Adaptation (Actress in a Supporting Role)
2006--The Devil Wears Prada (Actress in a Leading Role)
2008--Doubt (Actress in a Leading Role)
2009--Julie & Julia (Actress in a Leading Role)
2011--The Iron Lady (Actress in a Leading Role)*

*indicates win

Saturday, October 13, 2012

More pics from set of "August: Osage County"

I feel like kind of a bad Meryl fan/blogger.  Evidently there have been two additional snapshots of Meryl from the set of August: Osage County that were posted online like a week ago that I've only come across now.   I was out of town last night, so after getting back home this evening I wanted to post about the new pics of Ewan McGregor, Dermot Mulroney and Abigail Breslin that were released a couple days ago.  You can see those here.   What I was surprised to find were these two rogue pics of Meryl. 

As you can see, the photos come from the Meryl Streep forum gallery.  I was a bit confused at first because I thought it was a completely different site, but turns out the gallery kind of has its own separate page.  Does anyone else see a likeness to Meryl's other Oklahoman film character Karen Silkwood in these pics?   I wonder if Meryl had any input on the styling.  These are clearly from the same scene as the only other photo we had up to this point...Beverly's funeral.   I understand the new pics of McGregor, Mulroney and Breslin are also from the same scene.  Apparently the three of them take Steve's (Mulroney) car to pick up some wine for the family dinner after the service.  We can see the Florida license plates, as in the script, Karen and Steve live in Florida.  The red sports car fits Steve's character pretty well...sort of midlife crisis, smarmy, douche baggy.  

I read on the Meryl forum that she's not due on location this week.  I believe they'll be shooting the remainder of the scenes at the Boulanger home in Pawhuska.  The pics might be a little harder to come by if everything is being shot indoors.  Stay tuned, and unlike me...have patience.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Meryl in new PSA for Center for Reproductive Rights

On this blog I've historically been more inclined to post updates regarding Meryl's filming schedule, awards buzz, project rumors and past successes.  I tend to pass on much of the humanitarian work she does.  Not that it's not incredibly admirable stuff, it's just that the impetus for my thoughts on her lean toward what I see onscreen.  But part of my enjoyment of her lies in the fact that she demonstrates such a fantastic social awareness.  No doubt it's part of what can make one a good actor.  Seeing people, trying to understand what it would be like to be someone else.  I can remember Joe (who btw returns from a two week trip in Morocco tomorrow!) once telling me that this is what being liberal is.  I don't presume to know the ins and outs of Meryl's political views, but I think it's safe to say that she's a very progressive-thinking woman.

With a major election just four weeks away, Meryl has filmed a PSA for The Center for Reproductive Rights.  As a progressive liberal myself, I think it's a good message to pass along.  So head to the website and sign the bill.  Oh, and if you're in Minnesota, vote "No" and "No."


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sheriff Deon scrapped?

Okay, so one day after I posted a pic from the set of August: Osage County and wondered if the actor in it may have been Sheriff Deon Gilbeau, Regina at FYC Meryl Streep was kind enough to inform me that someone on the Julia Roberts forum who's read the script is reporting that they've reduced the character to a cameo.  Whoa that was a long opening sentence.  It's not as if I'm going to miss the character, and this is actually good news for Meryl's screen time.  Tracy Letts had been saying that he was struggling with paring down his play in order for it to be a more reasonable length as a film.   The scenes with Deon and Barbara (Julia Roberts) are not super integral to the plot, and with the deletion of them I think there's less likelihood that anything that includes Violet (Meryl) would be removed.  Now let's see some Meryl pics already.   I guess this means the cast is officially complete:

Violet Weston: Meryl Streep (confirmed)
Barbara Fordham: Julia Roberts (confirmed)
Charlie Aiken: Chris Cooper (confirmed)
Karen Weston: Juliette Lewis (confirmed)
Jean Fordham: Abigail Breslin (confirmed)
Beverly Weston: Sam Shepard (confirmed)
Mattie Fae Aiken: Margo Martindale (confirmed)
Steve Heidebrecht: Dermot Mulroney (confirmed)
Little Charles Aiken: Benedict Cumberbatch (confirmed)
Johnna Monevata: Misty Upham (confirmed)
Bill Fordham: Ewan McGregor (confirmed)
Ivy Weston: Julianne Nicholson (confirmed)
Dr. Burke: Newell Alexander (mentioned in play but does not appear onstage)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

New pic from set of "August: Osage County"

Is this Sheriff Deon Gilbeau with a sobbing Julia Roberts and her onscreen husband Ewan McGregor?

The character may just be a policeman but this is undoubtedly where Barbara is brought to identify the body of her dead father, Beverly.   I found this pic on Awards Daily forums but I'm not sure who the actor is alongside Roberts and McGregor.  Sheriff Deon is the only character with lines in the play who we've yet to get confirmation on casting.   Newell Alexander has been cast as "Dr. Burke" according to imdb, and although mentioned in the play at the beginning of Act III, he does not appear on stage and has no lines.    CanNOT wait for more stills that include Meryl!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Meryl more likely for "Into the Woods"?

This morning on The Meryl Streep forum, Regina at FYC Meryl Streep posted a notice of an Into the Woods film cast reading that evidently took place yesterday.  Donna Murphy was listed as The Witch, so I thought this was to be taken as confirmation that Meryl would not be participating in the project.  However, there is an article on Broadway World that indicates Meryl is expected to be in the film cast, but was unable to attend the reading (makes sense since she's in Oklahoma shooting August: Osage County).   This article ultimately means two things to me: 1) the film is definitely happening, and 2) the cast has yet to be solidified, and Meryl is still "in talks" for the role.  I expect we'll get a little more info on this over the next week, but I doubt any of it will confirm or deny Meryl's absolute participation.  I'm just glad to learn she's still attached to the movie.  Joe will be so pleased.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

First glimpse of Meryl as "Violet"

Yesterday some photos showed up on the web from the set of August: Osage County.  Thank you to whomever at found these!  There's just one of Meryl, with co-star Margo Martindale who plays her sister Mattie Fae.

The first thing I thought when I saw this pic is that Meryl (on the right...hopefully obviously) looks like she has crazy-lady hair.   That's probably a good wig choice because Violet likes her some crazy.  The second thing I thought was, shit, these two really look alike here.  Again, good choice on casting, as they play sisters.  Being that the two are donning black garbs, I'm sure the scene they're working on is from the beginning of Act Two in the play, where the Weston family has just buried their lost and found patriarch, Beverly.

Tulsa World has also posted some pics from this week's shoot, mostly of Chris Cooper and Benedict Cumberbatch.  Again, these are likely from scenes after Beverly's funeral, as this is where Little Charles is introduced.   So excited to hopefully see more of Meryl on-set soon!

Friday, September 28, 2012

"Mommy & Me" scrapped

Well, on the heels of the announcement that Meryl may be joining Tommy Lee Jones and Hilary Swank in The Homesman, Entertainment Weekly is reporting in their new issue that Mommy & Me has officially been put on the least for now. Tina Fey was quoted as saying "the script went through a lot of permutations and almost got made and then didn't." I'm disappointed about this, but like I said in my post yesterday, we really haven't heard any real news on this is quite a while. As a big fan of Tina Fey, it would've been great to see her and Meryl team up. Now that August: Osage County (sort of my dream movie with Streep) is happening, I really have no future cause for complaints as it pertains to Meryl's involvement in certain projects. As a consummate pessimist, I'll just continue to assume that rumors are indeed rumors until I hear "rolling."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Meryl linked to new film "The Homesman"

I came across an article last night ("came across" when google searching Meryl news) which indicates a possible re-teaming of Meryl with Tommy Lee Jones in a period Western entitled The Homesman.   This was complete news to me.   The film would be adapted from the 1988 novel by Glendon Swarthout.  It takes place on the American frontier in the mid 19th century, where a pair of pioneers traverse the young continent to consign a handful of "insane" women to the east coast, where care would evidently be more appropriate.  Tommy Lee Jones would play the "homesman" hired by Mary Bee Cuddy (rumored to be played by Hilary Swank) to helm the journey.  The article did not indicate which role Meryl would be playing in the film if she were indeed to officially join the cast, but the role of an insane woman being trekked across the Wild West would present its own unique challenges I'm sure.

It's funny that I found this yesterday because I've been so obsessed with Meryl's current project August: Osage County that I hadn't given much thought to what she may consider shooting next year.  We still don't have any concrete details on whether or not Mommy & Me with Tina Fey is happening.  I really hope it does.  That would seem like the the type of film which may not take three months to shoot.  Meryl in a supporting role in The Homesman, although the film's production could be on a grand scale, may not require a huge amount of time for her either.  Then there's always the possibility of Into the Woods, which I think can barely be considered a rumor at this point.  Regardless, it's fun to read some news of possible future projects.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Filming underway for "August: Osage County"

We're three days into shooting.  Someone on the Julia Roberts forum posted that one of the first scenes to be shot takes place at a local hospital.  Apparently it's a funny scene with the three daughters discussing their mother with a doctor.  Realizing that they're likely shooting out of sequence, I'm guessing this scene may be the one at the beginning of Act Three in the play.  Violet (Meryl) has seen a doctor about her pill addiction and the three girls are chatting about it.  Barbara (Julia) recalls the time that her mother smuggled Darvocet into the psych ward by hiding it in her vagina.  The forum poster remarked that the scene is a "great showcase for Julia."  That may be, but if I'm right and this scene is indeed the one I mentioned from act three, then Roberts would basically be trading an equal number of lines with her two sisters (Juliette Lewis and Julianne Nicholson)...and the entire conversation is about Meryl's character.   Of course in the play this scene takes place at the house, but things will no doubt get changed a bit for the big screen.

George Clooney has been obliging the locals with pictures, and I happened to find this pic of Ewan McGregor as "Bill" on the Meryl Streep forum.  I don't know who the dude on the right is.   I'll be very interested to see how they physically portray Meryl as Violet.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Julianne Nicholson revealed as "Ivy"

Um, finally.  Theater Mania released an article yesterday revealing that Julianne Nicholson has been cast as Ivy in August: Osage County.  I know.  Who?  She's mostly known for her television work like Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Boardwalk Empire.  She's done a few small parts in films such as Kinsey and (omg) One True Thing.  Nicholson certainly looks the part of mousy Ivy.  Talk about the break of a lifetime, considering how high-profile the rest of this cast is.   It hasn't been officially announced, but evidently screenwriter Tracy Wells casually mentioned her at a meet and greet for a new Broadway production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.   I'm guessing it'll come out in a more formal way once shooting starts Monday.  But I think we can consider this confirmed. 

Of course I've noticed how the three sisters cast in this film are named Julia, Juliette and Julianne.  I enjoy how New York Daily News coined it the "Jul Box." Something else I noticed when I read the article on Theater Mania is that last week on the same website, it was announced that Nicholson would be unable to complete the extended run of (of all people) Sam Shepard's play Heartless because of "prior commitments."  Indeed.  Here's where we are on casting:

Violet Weston: Meryl Streep (confirmed)
Barbara Fordham: Julia Roberts (confirmed)
Charlie Aiken: Chris Cooper (confirmed)
Karen Weston: Juliette Lewis (confirmed)
Jean Fordham: Abigail Breslin (confirmed)
Beverly Weston: Sam Shepard (confirmed)
Mattie Fae Aiken: Margo Martindale (confirmed)
Steve Heidebrecht: Dermot Mulroney (confirmed)
Little Charles Aiken: Benedict Cumberbatch (confirmed)
Johnna Monevata: Misty Upham (confirmed)
Bill Fordham: Ewan McGregor (confirmed)
Ivy Weston: Julianne Nicholson (confirmed)

All we have left is the pivotal role of Sheriff Deon Gilbeau.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Oscar race update

I know, I know, it's September.  Looking past the obvious reservations some may have at prognosticating about what mood the collective minds of voting members in the AMPAS will be in around January, I'd like to share my thoughts about the current "state of the race."   When I  last posted on this topic,  I  guessed Meryl would fall anywhere from sixth to eighth in the run for an Oscar nomination.  As of today, with updated predictions on Gold Derby from "experts" this week,  I probably have to keep her in the same slot.  I've been regularly perusing the scratchy comments from the rabid divas on Awards Daily Forums, and with some interesting points being made on the "best actress" thread, I thought Meryl's chances may be better than I had originally predicted.  But I think Gold Derby tends to be a little more accurate come awards season, and it's probably because they mostly predict safe bets at this point.  Again, we have four months before Oscar nominations come out (and for the first time before the Globes), so plenty can change.  Meryl may be an afterthought in six weeks, or she may firmly solidify herself in some top five lists.  In fine pessimistic tradition, I think her chances at an 18th nomination for Hope Springs this year are dubious.

In beginning my lazy scouting of Meryl's competition, last night I dragged Joe to Beasts of the Southern Wild.  I have to admit, Quevenzhane Wallis was superb.  As a caveat to that statement however, I'd categorize the performance as superb for a nine year-old (she may be ten now, whatev).  It's a hard sell for me to believe that someone that young is really making organic and skilled acting choices.  I wonder how much of what I saw was from the director's point of view...a sort of "puppeteering" rather than an individual characterization from the actor.  The question makes including Wallis's performance in the Academy Awards conversation a bit of an enigma for me.   Regardless, Joe and I both enjoyed the film.  Although I found it at times fantastically gross, I left with an overall sentiment of family and community preservation.  And yes, a great impression if its young lead.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Accents Mastered updated

Ok, I was reading a few scenes tonight from the August: Osage County play script (because I'm an obsessive freak) and I was remembering reading a recent tweet which stated that Benedict Cumberbatch was having difficulty getting into the dialect of an Oklahoman.  Shocking that someone born and raised in London might struggle with such a drawl.  It made me think about how natural it'll probably come to Meryl, assuming it would be similar to her accent in Silkwood.   Then I remembered that I had listed in my previous Accents Mastered post that as Karen Silkwood, Meryl donned a "rural-Oklahoman" accent.  Having looked up Karen Silkwood, I recalled that she was actually born and raised in Texas.  It's therefore unlikely that as a reasonably young adult she didn't retain something more of a Texan accent.  I don't really even know what that would be, but Nederland, Texas is on the eastern border of the state, and I doubt folks from that "neck of the woods" sounded exactly like Oklahomans.

Therefore, I've updated her accent in Silkwood to "Texan."  Also, since filming on August: Osage County is set to begin one week from today, I thought I'd include this film in the updated version.  You may be wondering how I can consider this an "accent mastered" when they haven't even begun shooting.  Well, I've seen the play, and they all have Oklahoman accents, so I think there's about a .01% chance that Meryl will not have one in this film, and an even slimmer chance that she won't "master" it.    

The Seduction of Joe Tynan (1979)--Tennessean
The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)--British (specifically Received Pronunciation)
Sophie's Choice (1982)--Polish (in English and German)
Silkwood (1983)--Texan
Plenty (1985)--British
Out of Africa (1985)--Danish
Ironweed (1987)--Irish-American
A Cry in the Dark (1988)--New Zealand (with strong layers of Australian)
The Bridges of Madison County (1995)--Italian (Meryl calls it Iowatalian)
Dancing at Lughnasa (1998)--Irish
Angels in America (2003)--Yiddish and Bronx (in separate roles)
A Prairie Home Companion (2006)--Midwestern
Doubt (2008)--Bronx
Julie & Julia (2009)--Boston Brahmin
The Iron Lady (2011)--British (again Received Pronunciation)
August: Osage County (2013)--Oklahoman

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ewan McGregor cast as "Bill"

Wow, two casting updates in under 24 hours.  Variety is on it this week.  It was just revealed that Scottish actor Ewan McGregor has been cast as "Bill" in August: Osage County.   This announcement comes less than a day after we were given our "Johnna" in actress Misty Upham.  McGregor is a fantastic actor and I'm thrilled that we continue to get such big names added to the cast.  He's probably best known for his role as a drug addict in Trainspotting and of course opposite Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge (the latter not my fav).  When I originally saw his name I thought he seemed a bit young too, but at 41, he's only a little over three years younger than his onscreen wife, played by Julia Roberts.

The role for McGregor is by no means huge, but I am so excited about seeing this amazing collection of actors working together as an ensemble.  This could be really special.  Definitely an actors' film and will therefore be very much on the awards season radar early on.   Of course it technically already is, but let's at least let them begin shooting before we start handing out Oscars.

 I've read on Meryl Streep forums that Amy Adams is more than likely not going to be in the film as "Ivy."  Possible reasons include being too busy, or being too tired after participating in Into the Woods in Central Park this summer.  She also likely has a lot of press responsibilities in the coming months promoting both The Master and Trouble with the Curve.  So, I've removed her from the list completely.  I'm not disappointed.   As I've said in previous posts, two films with her and Meryl in the last four years is plenty.  Alrighty, here's where things stand as of this afternoon:

Violet Weston: Meryl Streep (confirmed)
Barbara Fordham: Julia Roberts (confirmed)
Charlie Aiken: Chris Cooper (confirmed)
Karen Weston: Juliette Lewis (confirmed)
Jean Fordham: Abigail Breslin (confirmed)
Beverly Weston: Sam Shepard (confirmed)
Mattie Fae Aiken: Margo Martindale (confirmed)
Steve Heidebrecht: Dermot Mulroney (confirmed)
Little Charles Aiken: Benedict Cumberbatch (confirmed)
Johnna Monevata: Misty Upham (confirmed)
Bill Fordham: Ewan McGregor (confirmed)

Yet to be confirmed:

Sheriff Deon

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Misty Upham cast as "Johnna"

Variety is reporting that Misty Upham has been cast as housekeeper "Johnna" in Meryl's upcoming film August: Osage County.  Upham, of Native American descent (evidently Blackfoot tribe), is probably best known for her supporting role in 2008's Frozen River.   Melissa Leo earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in the film.  This may elicit a gay gasp but I've never seen the movie.   I guess I have a good reason to now.  With shooting set to begin in under two weeks, we can hopefully expect to have the remaining three cast members revealed over the next thirteen days. 

We now have only Sheriff Deon, Bill and Ivy left to round out the full cast.  Ivy will be huge.  Bill isn't a tiny part by any means, but Ivy is arguably in the top two of role importance in this story.  Although Barbara likely has more screen time, Ivy and Violet are the two most interesting characters in my opinion.  Plus, whoever plays Ivy will likely have some intimate scenes with Meryl.  Here's where we stand as of tonight:

Violet Weston: Meryl Streep (confirmed)
Barbara Fordham: Julia Roberts (confirmed)
Charlie Aiken: Chris Cooper (confirmed)
Karen Weston: Juliette Lewis (confirmed)
Jean Fordham: Abigail Breslin (confirmed)
Beverly Weston: Sam Shepard (confirmed)
Ivy Weston: Amy Adams (speculated, but I doubt it)
Mattie Fae Aiken: Margo Martindale (confirmed)
Steve Heidebrecht: Dermot Mulroney (confirmed)
Little Charles Aiken: Benedict Cumberbatch (confirmed)
Johnna Monevata: Misty Upham (confirmed)

Yet to be confirmed:

Sheriff Deon


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Update on Meryl's chances for Oscar

This morning I took a look at Awards Daily forums, thinking I would casually peruse the comments on where things stand with best actress.  I found myself engulfed in an almost endless litany of personal top ten lists.  After only 36 pages(!), I came away with a very different outlook on this year's race for Oscar.  As I wrote earlier this week, Helen Hunt had been moved to the supporting category for The Sessions on Gold Derby, and with what I read today, that seems to be the near consensus.   In addition, I was surprised to see that not only did Laura Linney's performance in Hyde Park on Hudson not receive much love, she was essentially removed from all top five (and many top ten) lists.  That's a huge jump.  

Maggie Smith's upcoming Quartet (which seems to be very much up my alley) has been gaining major steam.  But the biggest revelation at the Toronto Film Festival this weekend appears to be Jennifer Lawrence's performance in the dramatic comedy Silver Linings Playbook.  I mean, some people on the forum are basically describing this lack luster best actress category as "game over" now that Lawrence's performance has been unveiled, after it seemed that Quvenzhane Wallis was the overwhelming front-runner.  Up until this morning, I was giving Meryl a pretty good chance at slipping into that fifth slot, but those chances may become increasingly more dismal over the coming months.  The news of Lawrence also bodes poorly for Meryl's chances at the Golden Globe in musical/comedy, as Silver Linings Playbook will likely be included in the same category.  Acknowledging that it's only September (for crying out loud), here are what seem to be the top five chances at Oscar nominations:

1. Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
2. Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
3. Maggie Smith (Quartet)  
4. Marion Cotillard (Rust & Bone)
5. Keira Knightley (Anna Karenina)

Knightley could fall by the wayside pretty quickly if reviews for her turn out to be lack-luster.   Streep, based on this list, would probably fall between sixth and eighth.   Of course, as fickle as these things can be, we may be saying something completely different in a week.   But I wager the top five will include at least three of the names in the above list.   I'm not too bummed about Meryl's buzz dropping considerably.  I really can't be, considering before Hope Springs came out I had zero expectation of anything more than a Globe nomination.  And even if somehow Meryl does get an Oscar nod, in a year as weak as this, it'll be more of a filler.   If she doesn't get any love from the Academy this year, all the more chance that she'll be recognized next year for you-know-what (wink).

Saturday, September 8, 2012

"August: Osage County" filming blurb

There was an article online last night that describes a few details about the upcoming shoot for August: Osage County.   Location manager Joe Guest spoke at a Bartlesville financial forum where they discussed the helpful impact that filming will have on the respective local economies.  From what they were describing it sounds like the film is going to be a rather large production.  We already know that the budget (at least according to imdb) is a cool $50,000,000.  I imagine that includes the considerable costs of paying very big-name actors.  I gather that most of the filming will be done in the home they've chosen in Pawhuska, with a bit done in Bartlesville as well.

It's been reiterated from this article that shooting indeed begins on Monday, September 24, and is evidently scheduled to go about three months.  The estimated shooting schedule length surprised me a little.  I assumed they'd have this wrapped up in about six weeks.  However, this was a very long play, and my guess is that they're going to do a ton of filming and pare it down in post.   Maybe that way Tracy Letts didn't have to make too many cuts to his script.  I really don't have much idea on how these things work, I'm just creating a scenario in my mind because I so badly want the film to include all the best parts (yes, I need to get a major grip).

So, we're only about two weeks out from shooting and I'm very excited to see updates over the coming months.  Including a finalized cast, perhaps...?  Ugh.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Meryl up to #5 on Gold Derby Oscar predictions

I happened to check out the latest Gold Derby rankings last night and was pleasantly surprised to see that Meryl has moved up to #5 on their best actress predictions list.  Helen Hunt has been removed from the list entirely.  It was a bit confusing because I thought maybe they were going to push back the release of The Sessions, similar to The Great Gatsby, but John Hawkes is still among the best actors at #2.  I didn't see it last night, but today I noticed that Helen Hunt is now listed at #6(!) on the supporting actress list.

This is good news for Meryl's chances at an Oscar nomination for Hope Springs.  I don't know if Hunt is officially going to be campaigned in supporting, but Regina at FYC Meryl Streep and I both agree that it's a stupid idea moving her to that category.  That coupled with the underwhelming reception of Laura Linney's performance in Hyde Park on Hudson at this weekend's Telluride Film Festival signals an uptick in buzz for Meryl.  We'll have to wait and see if more sites begin to push Hunt over to the supporting category. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Film review: "Plenty" (1985)

I thought I'd take a break from my compulsive August: Osage County updates and take a look at a film that I feel I've watched twice without really remembering what happens.  In addition to enjoying Meryl's several lines delivered in French, after viewing it again I realized it's actually a really good character story.   Plenty was adapted from David Hare's 1978 play about Susan Traherne, a British former agent for the French Resistance during World War II.   The crux of the story is the internal and eventually external battle Susan (Meryl) goes through as she attempts to adjust to post-war life.

Around this self-destruction revolve various stories in a non-chronological timeline.  After the fighting and a brief tryst with a fellow agent (played by Sam Neill) end, Susan takes a series of unfulfilling jobs, hoping to find something even remotely resembling the excitement and drive of purpose she felt during war time.  She is unsuccessful in this endeavor, as she is in trying to fill the void by conceiving a child with an almost-stranger, Mick, played by Sting.  Yes, Sting.  During this time we see her befriend the young Alice Park, played by Tracey Ullman.  Alice becomes a sort of background partner in Susan's eccentricities and ultimate catalyst in squabbles with her diplomat husband, Raymond (Charles Dance).

I was intrigued in learning about the general sense of disillusionment that was apparently felt among many Europeans after the war, particularly English high society.  Susan finds the day to day pleasantries and unquestioned existence too much.  She slowly self destructs, illustrated by a series of progressively selfish, uncontrolled diatribes against her husband and his colleagues.  One of Meryl's best scenes is with Sir John Gielgud, who plays an English diplomat whom Susan considers, along with many others, to be a stuffy, out of date blunderer.

We don't see it in this clip, but my favorite line from the movie comes earlier in this scene, when the Burmese ambassador, struggling with his word choice remarks "The English language, she is a demanding beat her and the bitch obeys."  A tad disturbing and misogynistic perhaps, but I thought it funny nonetheless.  Anyway,  I think Meryl does a great job here of portraying someone's who just seems bored.  The decorum of the dinner party gathering is something against which she is trying to rail.  How best to shake things up?  Susan's way is to become rude, and to belittle and attempt to embarrass her husband.  She succeeds.

After essentially ruining her husband's prospects of advancement, Susan decides to go behind his back and insist on a promotion within his office.  Here Susan finds her intellectual match in Sir Andrew Charleson (played by Ian McKellen).  When she learns that her efforts will not result in an advancement in her husband's weakened career, we see her damaged psyche in full effect as she threatens to kill herself.  The destruction is complete when her last desperate and delusional attempt at finding purpose (converting her home into a house for battered wives) is stopped short by Raymond trying to finally get through to her.    It doesn't work.

Roger Ebert had a good quote about Meryl in this film saying she gives "a performance of great subtlety; it is hard to play an unbalanced, neurotic, self-destructive woman, and do it with such gentleness and charm...Streep creates a whole character around a woman who could have simply been a catalogue of symptoms."  It makes one question why Meryl wasn't really recognized for awards in this film.  Well, I'm not saying it absolutely warranted an Oscar nom (which it did), but she had another little film released in 1985 called Out of Africa.   We'll leave that discussion for a future post in "Snubs."

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sam Shepard in talks to play Meryl's husband in "August: Osage County"

The weekly revelations continue.  Variety is reporting that Sam Shepard is in talks to star alongside Meryl in the upcoming film August: Osage County.  Shepard would play Beverly Weston, the alcoholic family patriarch whose disappearance and ultimate death are the impetus for a tumultuous family gathering around which the story unfolds.  When I saw this news, the first thing I thought was "he's too young."  Turns out the man is 68.  I was thinking late 50's but then I remembered him starring in The Pelican Brief which I knew was in 1994 and figured he had to be at least mid 40's then.  It's interesting that in Pelican Brief he played Julia Roberts's boyfriend, and in August, he'll be her father.   Managing Beverly shouldn't be too much of a stretch for him, as in Pelican Brief his character was an alcoholic professor.  

This will be his third film with Julia.  How can we forget him as Dolly Parton's deadbeat husband Spud in Steel Magnolias?  With his nomination for 1984's The Right Stuff, Shepard would also make it six Academy Award nominees in the cast so far.  I'm going to continue to include Tom Wilkinson as "speculated" along with Shepard, but with the proximity of this news to the start of filming, I figure it's similar to Juliette Lewis over Andrea Riseborough.

I have to say that although Sam Shepard's character would technically be Benedict Cumberbatch's character's father, Chris Cooper (who plays his apparent father) looks more like Cumberbatch.  What do we think?



I don't know.   I suppose that isn't the the filmmakers' biggest priority.  Below you can see the current list as of tonight.  Ivy is still by far the heaviest role yet to be announced.  I'm not particularly suprised that they're either waiting on revealing it, or having trouble narrowing it down.  She's the most complex of the three sisters.

Violet Weston: Meryl Streep (confirmed)
Barbara Fordham: Julia Roberts (confirmed)
Charlie Aiken: Chris Cooper (confirmed)
Karen Weston: Juliette Lewis (confirmed)
Jean Fordham: Abigail Breslin (confirmed)
Beverly Weston: Tom Wilkinson (speculated, but I doubt it)
                            Sam Shepard (speculated, but likely to be confirmed)
Ivy Weston: Amy Adams (speculated, but again, I doubt it)
Mattie Fae Aiken: Margo Martindale (confirmed)
Steve Heidebrecht: Dermot Mulroney (confirmed)
Little Charles Aiken: Benedict Cumberbatch (speculated, but likely to be confirmed)

Roles yet to be (technically) confirmed:

Little Charles (I've put this back in for the time being but I'm confident Cumberbatch is our man)
Sheriff Deon

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Benedict Cumberbatch in talks for "August: Osage County"

It appears we may have our Little Charles.  The Hollywood Reporter is, well, reporting that the star of BBC's Sherlock Holmes is in talks to join the cast of August: Osage County.  I've had the pleasure of seeing Cumberbatch in action in the aforementioned series thanks to Joe.   If you get a chance, check it out.  It's quirky, smart and funny.  I'm glad they have a Brit involved in this ensemble.  And Cumberbatch seems more than equipped to tackle the role of the simple, yet sensitive son of Mattie Fae and Charlie Aiken, played by Margo Martindale and Chris Cooper, respectively.  The full cast is rounding out very nicely:

Violet Weston: Meryl Streep (confirmed)
Barbara Fordham: Julia Roberts (confirmed)
Charlie Aiken: Chris Cooper (confirmed)
Karen Weston: Juliette Lewis (confirmed)
Jean Fordham: Abigail Breslin (confirmed)
Beverly Weston: Tom Wilkinson (speculated)
Ivy Weston: Amy Adams (speculated)
Mattie Fae Aiken: Margo Martindale (confirmed)
Steve Heidebrecht: Dermot Mulroney (confirmed)
Little Charles Aiken: Benedict Cumberbatch (speculated)

Roles yet to be confirmed:

Sheriff Deon

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Meryl in "Downton Abbey"?

A little while ago I tweeted the article of Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes being quoted as saying he would like Meryl to be in his British period drama.  This is the second mention in two days of Meryl's name being associated with the hit PBS show.   On Monday a few cast members were asked that if a film were made who they saw as possibilities.  Meryl's name came up.  I didn't pay too much attention to that, but when I saw the Fellowes is a fan, my ears perked a tad. 

I am a huge fan of Downton Abbey.   When I was off work for thirteen weeks earlier this year recovering from shoulder surgery, I endured a short-term addiction to it.  Season three is set to air next month, and with it's popularity, the buzz about creating a feature film probably won't get any weaker.  I can't imagine that they wouldn't just use the regular cast in a film, unless they made some pretty major changes to the premise of the show.   They can always create new characters however, and seeing Meryl in any way part of this production or a similar production would be wonderful.  I liken it to my obsession with August: Osage County.   I saw the play six months before Meryl's name was ever linked to it.  It was and is so exciting to have a pairing of two things I very much enjoy. 

Downton Abbey is up for sixteen Primetime Emmys in September. 

Monday, August 20, 2012


Nothing major to report, just wanted to throw down a few thoughts.  Hope Springs is doing okay at the box office.  Opened at #4, dropped a bit in week two.  The most important thing is that Meryl is getting amazing reviews. Gold derby continues to list her as #6 in the Best Actress Oscar hunt.  I made a bet with a friend this weekend (who said he had no interest in seeing Hope Springs and shall therefore remain nameless) that I believed that Meryl would win a Golden Globe for her role.  He was abhorred at the idea of her winning and thought it an impossibility...despite not seeing the film.  I told him that if Meryl wins in January (of course in musical/comedy) that every time he saw me for a year he had to bow down.  I will have to do the same if she loses.  I think she has a great shot at winning in this category.  The Hollywood Foreign Press is bananas for her, and there don't seem to be any other lead musical/comedy actresses that could outshine her at this point.  Everyone in Les Mis will go supporting.  Unless they commit category fraud with Hyde Park on Hudson for Laura Linney like they did for Michelle Williams last year with My Week with Marilyn

August: Osage County starts shooting in about a month.  Truly this is going to be an apeshit, 18-month ongoing siege of mine on the blog.  This weekend they posted video and pics of the house that was purchased for filming in Oklahoma.  Yes, that's worth reporting.  What's also worth reporting is that imdb has some teenage girl named Agathe Anne G listed as "rumored" to play Luna Weston in the film.  Um, who the fuck is Luna Weston?  I have not been able to fine anything else about this online.  Any further info would be much appreciated.  Sadly it's almost like I feel protective of the original script and cast of characters.  Okay not almost.  Completely. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Dermot Mulroney joins "August: Osage County"

We're getting there.  With the announcement that cutey Dermot Mulroney has been cast as Juliette Lewis's smarmy husband Steve Heidebrecht, we now have only six characters left to cast.  Considering shooting starts in under six weeks, I suppose we can expect about one cast member revealed weekly until then.  I've enjoyed several of Mulroney's movies in the past. My fav is probably Copycat with Holly Hunter and Sigourney Weaver.  Maybe I'll try to find it on Netflix tonight.  This film reunites Mulroney with Julia Roberts from their pairing in the hilarious My Best Friend's Wedding.  Here's the latest on casting:

Violet Weston: Meryl Streep (confirmed)
Barbara Fordham: Julia Roberts (confirmed)
Charlie Aiken: Chris Cooper (confirmed)
Karen Weston: Juliette Lewis (confirmed)
Jean Fordham: Abigail Breslin (confirmed)
Beverly Weston: Tom Wilkinson (speculated)
Ivy Weston: Amy Adams (speculated)
Mattie Fae Aiken: Margo Martindale (confirmed)
Steve Heidebrecht: Dermot Mulroney (confirmed)

These roles are yet to be confirmed:

Little Charles
Sheriff Deon

Have I mentioned I'm excited for this project?  Ahhhh!