Thursday, June 27, 2013

Academy Awards analysis (1998)

Cate Blanchett was robbed.  Her performance in the title role of 1998's Elizabeth is one of my favorites from the 90's.  Weirdo Gwyneth Paltrow won for a decent performance in Shakespeare in Love, thanks to a major push from Miramax and Harvey Weinstein.  At the time is was likely a good bet, as she had won the Golden Globe (musical/comedy) and the SAG, while Blanchett took the Globe in drama and the BAFTA.  Meryl was likely fourth or fifth in the running that year for her turn as a cancer-stricken mother opposite Ren√©e Zellweger in One True Thing.  Evidently Fernanda Montenegro was amazing in Central Station, but I've never seen it.  The full nominees list is as follows:

Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth)
Fernanda Montenegro (Central Station)
Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love)
Meryl Streep (One True Thing)
Emily Watson (Hilary and Jackie)

There are a few things I like about this: 1) Paltrow actually seems genuinely appreciative and a bit overwhelmed by the moment.  Despite this she delivered a great speech. 2) Fernanda Montenegro looks super bitchy. After the Brazilian veteran lost to Paltrow she is quoted as referring to the young winner as "...this romantic figure.  Thin, pure, virginal.   They don't have much of this type of actress in America."  She also described Paltrow's win as "an investment."  Sort of love this.  3) Paltrow in her speech describes Meryl as the "greatest one there ever was."  Meryl did a great job of acting appalled by this gushing, but I wasn't quite convinced.

This loss made it seven straight for her at the Oscars and 16 years since her last win.   

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Kendrick, Huttlestone up for "Into the Woods"

Before I start freaking out about Anna Kendrick possibly being in this film, I must first and foremost wish a very happy birthday to the reason for the season.  Hope it's a great 64th, Meryl.  So, Kendrick had been rumored as attached to Into the Woods since last fall's table reading, but until last night, we had no real information on her potential involvement.  Several sources are now reporting that she is indeed in talks to star in Stephen Sondheim's upcoming musical, alongside Meryl of course, as "Cinderella".  LOVE this.  Joe and I have probably watched Pitch Perfect about forty times.  Looks like I'll now have to finally watch Camp in its entirety as well.

The same article has also revealed that the young Daniel Huttlestone, who played "Garoche" in last year's Les Miserables, is also in talks to join the cast as "Jack."  This is a bit of a change from the original stage production, as Jack is typically played by a young adult.  Huttlestone, at 13, would provide a different dynamic to the film.  I didn't think his singing in Les Mis was anything to get excited about, but maybe he's better than I remember.  Regardless, just excited how nicely this cast is shaping up!

The Witch: Meryl Streep (confirmed)
The Wolf: Johnny Depp (confirmed)
The Baker: James Corden (confirmed)
Cinderella's/Rapunzel's Prince: Jake Gyllenhaal & Chris Pine (rumored)
The Baker's Wife:  Emily Blunt (confirmed)
The Stepmother: Christine Baranski (rumored)
Stepsister: Megan Hilty (rumored)
Jack's Mother: Tracey Ullman (rumored)
Jack: Daniel Huttlestone (rumored)
Cinderella: Anna Kendrick (rumored)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Release date for "August: Osage County" pushed to December 25th

Son of a bastard.  As if I weren't white-knuckling it enough the way it is.  Box Offce Mojo is now listing the release date for August: Osage County as December 25th, changed from November 8th.  Ugh, waiting two months more?  I have to imagine that this is likely a box office move for the Weinstein Company, as a family drama would likely do well around the holidays.  Personally I had thought that Thanksgiving may be more fitting considering the dysfunctional nature of the storyline, but this works too.  It's certainly not a bad spot for Oscar buzz as well, moving within closer proximity of voting.

Nicole Kidman's Grace of Monaco, another Weinstein flick, was also moved, albeit now a month earlier to November 27.  It'll come as no surprise that August will be the better movie.  The best Weinstein can hope for Kidman is an Oscar nom, as Grace will likely make a modest showing at the box office at best.  August: Osage County has the potential for being a hit, particularly with this more savvy release placement.

Looks like I have a Christmas rendezvous at the cinema the next two years running.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"Into the Woods" script surfaces

Yesterday the script for Into the Woods surfaced on the internet and of course I had to read it.  I'm reasonably familiar with the original stage version so I'll offer a few thoughts on what will liekly be different in the film.  First and foremost, essentially nothing of Meryl's character, the Witch, is cut.  In fact, there's a new song for the Witch after Rapunzel runs off.  Meryl will have plenty of screen time, and although likely not the most lines, she regularly shows up throughout all of the intertwined stories, even if at times briefly. 

Some major differences are the cutting in the film of the Narrator/Mysterious Man.  His narrations are done by the Baker, but unfortunately they also cut out the Baker's song toward the end where he sees his father, "No More."  It's a great song for that character, but not necessarily fitting for the revised screenplay.  Several of the montage songs and reprises, like at the end of Act I and beginning of Act II are also out, again likely for flow and time.   I had also thought that since it's Disney they wouldn't kill off anyone, but the Baker's Wife dies, and Jack's Mother is described as "gone." 

All in all they've stayed very loyal to the original story, which is a relief.  So often while reading I found myself thinking "how the hell are they going to do that onscreen?"  It will be fascinating to see how they manage to pull all of this together.  I'm predicting a lot of special effects.  And hopefully fantastic singing!  'Only' 18 months to wait.  

Sunday, June 16, 2013

First rumored project for 2015?

An Italian source is reporting that in an interview with writer Michael Cunningham, it's rumored that he's currently working on a script for Meryl Streep.  Cunningham earned the Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Hours, a film adaptation of which of course starred Meryl, Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore.  Screenplay credits for Cunningham include A Home at the End of the World and Evening, the latter of which saw Meryl's involvement with a small supporting role in 2007. 

In the translated version that I've linked, Cunningham suggests that the film revolves around "a separated woman with two children who cannot keep secret her alcoholism."  Baity much?  With filming of Into the Woods set for this fall and The Homesman apparently wrapped, we could expect filming to begin no sooner than 2014.  Considering that Cunningham is still working on the script, were the project to come to fruition, it may be even longer.  If it's ready by even early to mid 2014 however, it's certainly possible to expect filming to start not long after, which would make a 2015 release reasonable.  This of course assuming the article is legitimate and everything else works out.  I wonder from what source Cunningham may be adapting the screenplay.  Were it an original, it would be his first.  We'll have to wait and see what other news, if any, we get about this potential project.   

Friday, June 14, 2013

Disney announces Christmas Day 2014 release for "Into the Woods"

The Wrap is reporting that Disney has already set a release date for Meryl's upcoming film, Into the Woods.   December 25th, 2014 will see the film's release, opposite the young Quevenzhan√© Wallis in Sony's remake of the classic musical Annie.  Not that I think this will necessarily be a huge awards vehicle for Meryl, but the release date is prime for recognition and Meryl has a main role.  With how big this cast is and Rob Marshall at the helm, there will definitely be a lot of talk surrounding the picture in a number of categories.  I am very much looking forward to seeing how both the singing and the film in general turn out.  Great news!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tracey Ullman in talks to join "Into the Woods"

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Tracey Ullman is currently in talks to join the cast of Into the Woods as Jack's Mother.  I think this is a fantastic choice.  I'm a big fan of Ullman, and she's an incredibly talented actress and fine singer.   The role of Jack's Mother could be a comic and hammy one as well, with Ullman certainly well-suited for such a job.

Ullman paired with Meryl in 1985's Plenty.  The two likely won't have many scenes together in Into the Woods, but I'm excited to see that's she's attached to the project regardless.  Meryl has been quoted as saying that Ullman is superior to her when it comes to nailing accents.  I may have to agree.  Joe and I on occasion cue up clips of her old show, with our likely favorites being her impersonations of Princess Margaret:

Great stuff.  With Ullman possibly joining the cast, here's where we stand:

The Witch: Meryl Streep (confirmed)
The Wolf: Johnny Depp (confirmed)
The Baker: James Corden (confirmed)
Cinderella's/Rapunzel's Prince: Jake Gyllenhaal & Chris Pine (rumored)
The Baker's Wife:  Emily Blunt (confirmed)
The Stepmother: Christine Baranski (rumored)
Stepsister: Megan Hilty (rumored)
Jack's Mother: Tracey Ullman (rumored)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Premature look at Best Actress race

Back in March I had posted news of Meryl topping the polls in early Gold Derby predictions.  Nearly three months later, Meryl is still on top of that poll.  We know a bit more about the race now, however.  So, five months prior to Meryl's next film premiere and nearly nine months prior to the Academy Awards ceremony, let's take a look at where things stand in the Best Actress race for Oscar gold.

I'll just get right down to it.  From the culmination of all resources I've checked, a reasonable expectation for top ten as of today, in no particular order (with the exception of our girl), may look something like this:

1. Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)
2. Judi Dench (Philomena)
3. Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
4. Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
5. Kate Winslet (Labor Day)
6. Julie Delpy (Before Midnight)
7. Nicole Kidman (Grace of Monaco)
8. Naomi Watts (Diana)
9. Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks)
10. Marion Cotillard (The Immigrant)

With the exception of Delpy (zero nominations) and Watts (two nominations), all are previous winners.  That's kind of a heavy year of baity projects.  Now, considering it's still seven months before the nominations are revealed, there is likely to be someone not even currently on the radar who will jump into the conversation after one of the fall film festivals.  I would've added Hilary Swank to the above list, but I don't know for sure if The Homesman will be released in 2013.  IMDb suggests it will be, and the filming has evidently wrapped, so it's definitely possible.  I certainly wouldn't mind having two Meryl performances to look forward to come fall.

Amy Adams (American Hustle) and Julia Roberts (August: Osage County) I expect to go supporting, but depending how the their respective films and performances are received, may be campaigned in lead.  For Julia, I just don't see Harvey Weinstein thinking it possible to get two in lead, as Meryl is likely his best bet.  Category fraud no doubt, but it's historically rampant so I'm not getting into it in this post.  

Harvey also has Dench, Kidman and Cotillard to campaign.  He just bought the rights to Philomena at Cannes so this either means he thinks Dench is amazing or that Kidman may have trouble.  It's likely a combination of both.  With the teaser trailer of Diana being released today, I have a feeling a lot of prognosticators may be changing their tune about Watts's chances as well.  That shit looked sub-Lifetime network.  If it does turn about to be awful, I really hope the Academy passes.

The trailer for Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine was released a few days ago and it looks Oscar-ish for Blanchett.  Despite a trailer for Gravity, we didn't really get a sense for Bullock's acting, but it's basically a one woman show in space.  I'm dubious about her performance being steallar, however.  Early screenings of Saving Mr. Banks have apparently been very favorable to Emma Thompson, in a role for which Meryl was originally rumored to be in talks.  I'm actually looking forward to seeing Kate Winlset in Labor Day, but I'd be surprised if she received a second lead win so soon after The Reader.   Julie Delpy seems like the last hope at this point for an Oscar newcomer to sneak in. 

Which leaves Meryl.  We know early screenings of her performance have been lauded, and the role itself is very showy which should be right in the Academy's wheelhouse.  The pessimist in me fears Streep fatigue, but the realist in me thinks this is a slam dunk for her 18th nod and, if critics overwhelming applaud both the film and Streep, she may be in the hunt for her fourth win.  This is the only realistic way I can conceive of Meryl winning again so soon after her third.  Like Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln, her performance must be so good that she essentially becomes undeniable for the top prize.  It'll be a tall task in a year of so many highly-anticipated performances from some major acting heavyweights.  Had she not won for 2011's for The Iron Lady, this year would already be "game over." Alas, I'm already bracing myself for one intense, nail-biter of a season.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Emily Blunt confirms "Into the Woods"

I'm a little tardy with this news, but among other sources, is reporting that Emily Blunt has confirmed that she will be working alongside Meryl for a second time, starring in Into the Woods.  She doesn't specifically say she's playing The Baker's Wife, but all previous reports suggest so.

This article states that filming is set to begin early 2014, however all other sources I've read corroborate previous reports that a fall 2013 start date is more likely.  Regardless, I just want this film out no later than fourth quarter 2014.  Considering the number of convoluted elements and likely special effects that are going to be involved, they had best get underway sooner than later.  Here's where we are with the casting:

The Witch: Meryl Streep (confirmed)
The Wolf: Johnny Depp (confirmed)
The Baker: James Corden (confirmed)
Cinderella's/Rapunzel's Prince: Jake Gyllenhaal & Chris Pine (rumored)
The Baker's Wife:  Emily Blunt (confirmed)
The Stepmother: Christine Baranski (rumored)
Stepsister: Megan Hilty (rumored)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Jane Fonda on Meryl's screen debut

This is like four days old and I didn't think it was necessarily blog worthy, but I just got around to watching the interview with Fonda and felt I should make a few comments.  Namely, I love when other actors talk about Meryl and how great she is.  In this Gold Derby interview, Fonda describes her reaction to Meryl's work in Julia.  She basically says that Meryl's work made her hair stand on end.  I can remember reading quotes years ago that Jane Fonda remembered Meryl stealing every scene she had in the film.

A more interesting part of the interview is when Fonda recalls how after working with Katharine Hepburn in On Golden Pond Hepburn was worried that Fonda may surpass her in Oscar wins.  Hepburn is historically remembered for not attending any of the twelve ceremonies for which she was nominated.  We know from Hepburn's interview with Dick Cavett that she didn't attend because she was afraid she wouldn't win.  When Hepburn was up for her lead role in On Golden Pond, she already had three wins.  Jane Fonda too was up in supporting, with two previous wins.  Had Fonda won and Hepburn lost, they would be tied.  After Hepburn won to bring her total to a record four, Fonda called to congratulate her and Hepburn reportedly quipped, "you'll never catch me now!"  It makes me realize that not only did Hepburn care about her record and wins, but that she was particularly competitive.  Maybe that's why Hepburn considered Streep her least favorite actress...she feared Meryl may eventually be the one to break her record??  I'm now even more excited to see a possible win for August: Osage County.  

Fonda's comments on Hepburn are at about 08:30, those on Meryl at 24:40.