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.