Friday, August 30, 2013

Meryl going back to lead?

Now Tom O'Neil over at Gold Derby is reporting that after a final cut has been completed of August: Osage County for its world premiere in Toronto in two weeks, it looks like the consensus may turn out be that Meryl is indeed lead after all.  Duh.  Apparently a "final decision will be announced within days."  While I'm personally pleased by the prospect of Streep getting nominated in lead instead of supporting, the original story that came out a few weeks ago about category placement is seeming more and more like a ploy by Harvey Weinstein and O'Neil to get buzz going.  Kudos to both, because it worked beautifully.  I've no doubt that with this new revelation the blogosphere will fucking explode...again.  Latest production still:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Octavia Spencer in "Fruitvale Station"

Joe's working tonight so I decided to catch Fruitvale Station on the way home from work.  Like last weekend when I saw Lee Daniels' The Butler, I went with the purpose of viewing a particular performance, but I've also just wanted to see this movie for a while and I'm worried about getting too far behind during awards season.

First reaction is that it's a better film than The Butler.  Yes, it's a very different movie, but I responded very nicely to the documentary feel of it.  Michael B. Jordan (Oscar Grant III) is every bit as good as his reviews.  I happened to be impressed with Melanie Diaz as Oscar's girlfriend, but Octavia Spencer was definitely the standout supporting role.

The film itself is short (only 85 minutes), and she didn't really have much to do in the first 2/3 of the film.  In the hospital scenes, however, she really shined.  She so convincingly portrayed a mom trying to hold it together in the worst moment of her life, before breaking down with a sense of guilt for having suggested that Oscar take the train.  What she intended as an act of concern resulted in her son being put in harm's way.  I know nothing about Oscar Grant's real mother, but through Spencer's performance I believed her history as a mom who always tried to do right by her child.  I highly recommend seeing this film.

It almost seems vulgar to pit Spencer and Oprah Winfrey's roles against each other in a comparison, considering the importance and poignancy of their films' subjects, but this is after all a candid blog.  Spencer's was the less showy role, but with what she had "to do" in the film, without hesitation I would place her performance above Winfrey's.  That said, having won last year for The Help, there isn't a cat in hell's chance of a repeat win for Octavia.  So far this is Oprah's to lose. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Streep headed to South Africa for "The Giver"

Sources are reporting that Meryl will be heading to Cape Town in late September or early October to begin filming The Giver.  The shoot is expected to last six to eight weeks.  We all know that Meryl is currently busy rehearsing/shooting Into the Woods, which is expected to wrap prior to Christmas.  I imagine this situation is sort of like when she was working on Kramer vs. Kramer and Manhattan simultaneously back in the late '70s.  With a brief break from London, Meryl will likely be able to complete her work on The Giver in a week's time.  I love how many projects Meryl has going this year. 

PS--The Telluride Film Festival begins tomorrow in Colorado...the official start of awards season (smiley face emoticon).  

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sizing up the competition

With the expressed purpose of judging Oprah's performance, I invited my friend Kristan to join me for a viewing of Lee Daniels' The Butler last night.  After last week's news of the possibility of Meryl going supporting for August: Osage County, I figured I better start seeing some films, considering I'm going to have to now check out both lead and supporting contenders for Best Actress.  I still think it's up in the air which category Meryl will be placed in eventually.  Toronto may help give us a better indication in a couple weeks.

So, The Butler.  It was better than I had expected, frankly.  I don't want to get into too much of a full review of the the film, but suffice it to say I was entertained.  More of the story focused on the Civil Rights Movement than I had anticipated, which was a small, albeit welcomed surprise.  Not that I really learned much or was challenged by the makers of the film to ponder many deep questions, but it was an admirable homage to the heroes of the time.  

Winfrey was in quite a bit of this film.  I can see how one could argue the role being lead, but supporting is probably a more fitting category. Her performance overall for me was...fine.  I don't know how much acting training she has but we know she's only done three films.  This inexperience coupled with the fact that she's so iconic to me as a TV personality made it difficult to see her as someone other than who I'm used to seeing.  I never quite believed Gloria as a cheating alcoholic.  An accent that sort of came and went like the wind didn't help much either.  As an old woman in her final scene, all I could picture was the dream scene with Michele and Sandy Frink from Romey and Michele's High School Reunion.  I doubt that's the effect Daniels was going for.   

My criticisms and the goofy presidential cameos in this film notwithstanding, I'm thrilled for Oprah and I'd be shocked if she weren't nominated for an Academy Award.  And as of right now, she probably has the best chance for the win.  It doesn't necessarily take an exceptional performance to get votes.   A bigger factor much of the time is the narrative.   Were Oprah new to the scene, I doubt we'd make much fuss about her in this film.  Ultimately I found it an unremarkable performance from an incredibly remarkable woman.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Meryl's role in "The Giver"

So, I got a copy of The Giver from the library and read it while on vacation last week.  I wish I had when it came out when I was 14.  It's a great story, albeit a bit depressing at times.  I don't want to give away spoilers but suffice it to say that I liked the ending.

Meryl's role will be rather short.  She plays the Chief Elder.  Her only scene in the book is when she announces each child's future occupation in an important annual ceremony.  While reading that scene all I could picture was Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall.  It will certainly be interesting to see how Meryl interprets the role.  I don't imagine her having to do much soul searching for it.  However, I think this film has the potential to make a shit-ton of money at the box office, so if that happens it'll be nice that Meryl's involved and widely seen. 

In other news, a new production still for August: Osage County was released today.  I think they titled it "thanks for agreeing to go supporting."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Meryl to attend Toronto International Film Festival

The latest news is that Meryl and Julia Roberts will both be attending the world premiere of their upcoming film August: Osage County at next month's Toronto International Film Festival.  August will be shown on Monday, 9/9 and Tuesday, 9/10.  Less than three weeks, folks!  After this release we'll be provided a wealth of reviews and opinions on the film and its stars' performances.  I'm hoping that we'll also get a little bit of light shed on whether or not Violet Weston will be believable as a supporting role.  Regardless, I just hope it's a great film and even greater performance from our girl.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Wish List entry #2: Susan B. Anthony

Winding down a week long vacation in the Pacific Northwest (which has been amazing btw), Joe and I have decided to finally spend a much needed evening in.  I'm getting a chance to do some reading and thought I'd update my blog with a wish list entry.  With the dust somewhat settled on the tragic news of Meryl going supporting for August: Osage County, I'm momentarily turning my attention to a film role possibility that I would be thrilled to see her portray.

In an interview early last year, Meryl indicated that she had discussed with Kathy Bates an interest in doing a film of 19th century civil rights activists and women's suffragists Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  If you're at all familiar with either activist's appearance, you'd understand why it's pretty likely Meryl would play Anthony and not the other way around.  Meryl had been busy promoting the proposed Women's History Museum on the National Mall, so perhaps the story of Anthony and Stanton was at the forefront of her mind at the time.  Regardless, not much more was mentioned about it after that initial revelation.

What's interesting is that after doing a little searching, there's actually a script floating around by a writer named Helise Flickstein about the two women entitled The Revolutionists.  There's even a link to a PDF copy of it online.  I haven't read it (yet), but I don't have particularly high hopes for its chances at getting produced.  That said, I like that there's at least some semblance of an interest in getting the story of these two incredibly important figures in U.S. history to the big screen.  As the writer of the screenplay points out, there's a potentially historic election coming up in 2016.  Were Hillary Clinton to be in the mix for election as the first female president of the United States, what great timing it would be to release a film about the two women who drafted the Constitutional Amendment that prohibited restricting the vote based on one's gender.

If Meryl's participation in The Good House pans out, I'm guessing filming would likely begin in the second half of 2014 with a late 2015 release planned (Oscar territory).  If the Anthony/Stanton picture were to happen, we'd still have two years from now before they would need to begin filming in order for it to be in theaters by summer 2016.  Perfect, right?!

It's been too long since Meryl has done one of her "buddy" projects, a la Death Becomes Her with Goldie Hawn, Marvin's Room with Diane Keaton, or (although never made) Mary Stuart with Glenn Close.  So, Meryl and Kathy, clear your schedules.  Ms. Flickstein, perfect that script and find a buyer.  Everyone else, spread the word.  This project needs to happen.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Streep likely going supporting for "August: Osage County"

Meryl fans everywhere are damn near in shock.  Tom O'Neill over at Gold Derby has indicated in a recent article that Meryl has agreed to be campaigned in the supporting category for August: Osage County.  This is huge news.  A debate that seemed mostly settled has now resurfaced, in which the blogosphere opines on category placement for both Streep and Julia Roberts.  Most, myself  included, assumed that Streep would go lead, therefore making it difficult for Roberts to get nominated alongside her in the same category...a feat not accomplished since 1991's Thelma & Louise.  An argument can be made for either Streep or Roberts to go supporting.  Truth be told, I think the amount of screen time (which Roberts no doubt will have more of) is always an easier, if not accurate, indicator for people to wrap their brains around when deciding placement.

But with the lead category becoming saturated with the likes of heavy hitters Cate Blanchett, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, Sandra Bullock, Kate Winslet and possibly Amy Adams, I can understand Harvey Weinstein's rationale.  Streep won last year in lead for The Iron Lady, and the current supporting category is much less full.  Right now, only Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station) and Oprah Winfrey (Lee Daniels' The Butler) seem like good bets at this point.  Spencer, like Streep, just won the Academy Award in 2012 for Actress in a Supporting Role for The Help.  There's no strong "due" factor for her obviously so it wouldn't hurt Streep's chances.  I haven't seen Oprah's performance yet, but I can't imagine it being stronger than Meryl's as Violet Weston, a role for which I firmly believe would be an extremely difficult role to beat in lead had Meryl not won last year.  That recent win helps explain why Meryl is perhaps cool with going supporting now, as opposed to for One True Thing, The Devil Wears Prada, or Julie & Julia.

As this news proves, only time will tell where everything will end up.  Suffice it to say that I was looking forward to Meryl being in the hunt for a lead win, but as things progress, that was seeming less likely considering the aforementioned factors.  Maybe we'll be calling Meryl a four-time Oscar winner next year after all.  Two wins in both supporting and lead wouldn't be too shabby, right?  Don't forget though, she still has to break the record at some point.  I was just hoping she could at least tie Katharine Hepburn for lead wins.  Not that she still couldn't, but I thought August: Osage County would be the perfect vehicle.  Turns out it still may be, just in a different category.  Can anyone tell the difference between an Oscar statuette for lead and supporting wins?  I didn't think so.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Two years of Word on the Streep

Today is the two year anniversary of Word on the Streep.  I just wanted to give a shout out to any and all readers!  After more than 250 posts, it's been more fun than I could have anticipated.  I've thoroughly enjoyed the thoughts, viewpoints and feedback from commenters and hope you've enjoyed the site.  The next six months is going to be jam-packed with Meryl news.  Stay tuned! 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

First production stills for "August: Osage County"

With all of the upcoming project news this week on Meryl, it's easy to forget that she has a big film coming out in four months.  That still seems so far out, but I'm satiated by the small tid bits, like table scraps to a dog, we're thrown on occasion...the trailer, early screening, news of premiere at TIFF and now, a couple of production stills.  Have a look:

Thank you to the Meryl Streep Forum for these pics!  The one on the bottom is obviously from the famous dinner scene, where Meryl will no doubt leave us all jaw-dropped and salivating (again like dogs) from her amazing performance.   Christmas really can't come soon enough this year.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sophia Grace Brownlee rounds out main cast of "Into the Woods"

Now that I don't have cable television, I basically never watch network shows, especially if they're on in the morning.  One can therefore understand that after I read Sophia Grace Brownlee had been cast as Little Red Riding Hood, I was like, "who the f*ck is that?"  The 10 year-old British You Tube sensation has apparently become a household name after appearing on the Ellen Degeneres show a couple of years ago with her cousin Rosie.  Subsequent appearances on the show have increased her popularity, evidently enough to get a role in a huge motion picture. 

Of course the blogosphere is in an uproar, crying that she's too young to play the role of Little Red and that her interaction with the Wolf will now seem either creepy or far too watered down to make the original lyrics make sense.  I'm going to withhold my judgement for now, as I'm sure the casting agents and director Rob Marshall have a good reason for their choice.  They obviously think the roles of both Red and Jack should really be children as Daniel Huttlestone (who turns 14 next month) has been confirmed as Jack.  Huttlestone has stated on his Facebook page that he's begun rehearsals and even posted of photo of himself with James Corden, who'll play the Baker. 

With just a handful of small roles unannounced, here's the official cast:

The Witch: Meryl Streep (confirmed)
The Wolf: Johnny Depp (confirmed)
The Baker: James Corden (confirmed)
The Baker's Wife: Emily Blunt (confirmed)
Cinderella's Prince: Chris Pine (confirmed)
Rapunzel's Prince: Billy Magnussesn (confirmed)
Cinderella: Anna Kendrick (confirmed)
Rapunzel: Mackenzie Mauzy (confirmed)
Cinderella's Stepmother: Christine Baranski (confirmed)
Lucinda: Lucy Punch (confirmed)
Florinda: Tammy Blanchard (confirmed)
Jack's Mother: Tracey Ullman (confirmed)
Jack: Daniel Huttlestone (confirmed)
Little Red Riding Hood: Sophia Grace Brownlee (confirmed)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Streep to join cast of "The Giver"

Mere hours after we learned of Meryl being linked to The Good House, Deadline is now reporting that she has also signed on to join Jeff Bridges in the upcoming film adaptation of Lois Lowry's Newbery Medal-winning children's book The Giver.  Holy hell!  Evidently Bridges, who will play the title role, has owned the movie rights for like 20 years.  A bit on the story from Wikipedia:

The novel follows a boy named Jonas through the twelfth year of his life. The society has eliminated pain and strife by converting to "Sameness," a plan that has also eradicated emotional depth from their lives. Jonas is selected to inherit the position of "Receiver of Memory," the person who stores all the past memories of the time before Sameness, in case they are ever needed to aid in decisions that others lack the experience to make. When Jonas meets the previous receiver—The "Giver"—he is confused in many ways. Additionally, the Giver is able to break some rules, such as turning off the speaker and lying to people of the community. As Jonas receives the memories from the Giver, he discovers the power of knowledge. The people in his community are happy because they do not know of a better life, and the knowledge of what they are missing out on could create major chaos. He faces a dilemma: Should he stay with the community and the safe, consistent but shallow life it offers, or should he run away in pursuit of a life full of love, color, choices, and knowledge, but also potentially full of danger?

Meryl would play the Chief Elder, "an authoritarian in charge of keeping control in a society that seems utopian."  This should be a rather small role, and reminds of Meryl's participation in 2004's Lemony Snicket's a Series of Unfortunate Events.  She has remarked that her children enjoyed that series of books, so I venture a guess that The Giver was also circulated material in the Gummer household.

Produced by The Weinstein Company, the film is set to begin shooting in South Africa in October with Australian director Phil Noyce at the helm.  Don't worry about this getting in the way of Into the Woods, y'all.  Meryl's work in The Giver is not likely to require and extensive amount of time.  Regardless, she's really going for it these days.  After yesterday's news, we can likely expect a total of five film releases involving Meryl between now and 2015 (August: Osage County, The Homesman, Into the Woods, The Giver, The Good House).  

Considering Joe was the one who wanted to see the play August: Osage County three years ago, and that he has long been a huge fan of both Into the Woods and The Giver, it makes me wonder if my boyfriend isn't secretly Harvey Weinstein.  Turns out he's probably just a far more interesting person than I am.  Either way, I'm thrilled with Meryl's upcoming participation in these rich projects.  And just when I thought it was a slow time for Meryl news...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Streep, De Niro to team for "The Good House"

As speculated in my post from June 16 of this year, Deadline (among other sources) is now reporting that the author of The Hours, Michael Cunningham, is indeed working on a script for Meryl. At the time, we had no idea if it was going to be an adaptation or his first original screenplay.  We now know that it will be an adaptation of Ann Leary's bestselling novel The Good House which will see Meryl pair with Robert De Niro for a fourth time.  De Niro's Tribeca films will pair with FilmNation to produce.

Needless to say, on paper, this seems like complete Oscar bait.  Two legends collaborating on a story adapted by a Pulitzer Prize-winning author from a hugely popular novel.  Here's a good synopsis of the story I found:

Hildy (Meryl) Good is a townie. A lifelong resident of an historic community on the rocky coast of Boston’s North Shore, she knows pretty much everything about everyone. Hildy is a descendant of one of the witches hung in nearby Salem, and is believed, by some, to have inherited psychic gifts. Not true, of course; she’s just good at reading people. Hildy is good at lots of things. A successful real-estate broker, mother and grandmother, her days are full. But her nights have become lonely ever since her daughters, convinced their mother was drinking too much, staged an intervention and sent her off to rehab. Now she’s in recovery—more or less. Alone and feeling unjustly persecuted, Hildy needs a friend. She finds one in Rebecca McCallister, a beautiful young mother and one of the town’s wealthy newcomers. Rebecca feels out-of-step in her new surroundings and is grateful for the friendship. And Hildy feels like a person of the world again, as she and Rebecca escape their worries with some harmless gossip, and a bottle of wine by the fire—just one of their secrets. But not everyone takes to Rebecca, who is herself the subject of town gossip. When Frank Getchell (De Niro), an eccentric local who shares a complicated history with Hildy, tries to warn her away from Rebecca, Hildy attempts to protect her friend from a potential scandal. Soon, however, Hildy is busy trying to cover her own tracks and protect her reputation. When a cluster of secrets become dangerously entwined, the reckless behavior of one threatens to expose the other, and this darkly comic novel takes a chilling turn.

Boston accent in store?  There's no word yet on who will play Rebecca.  My first thought is how amazing it would be to pair Meryl with Cate Blanchett, but on paper this seems a little too much like Notes on a Scandal to get Blanchett to bite.  I've read that it's kind of a dramedy, or dark comedy.  I'm hoping that means it will lean more toward August: Osage County than Hope Springs.  Not that Hope Springs wasn't a good movie and great performance from Meryl, but I like the heavier stuff.  Plus I absolutely live for films that garner awards buzz, as it gets people talking about Meryl and how incredible she is at giving us brilliant performances time and time again.

I'm guessing filming will likely take place mid to late next year.  Plenty of time for me to read the book (which I'll more than likely request form the library today).  Great news!

Monday, August 5, 2013

"Into the Woods" begins filming

I had sort of lost track of when shooting was to officially begin on this picture, but today James Corden, who plays The Baker, tweeted this pic with the caption "First Day!":

I'm not sure if Meryl begins work right away as well, but recall in my post on July 15 that it had been reported that she was set to head to London in three weeks to start work.  Three weeks would put it exactly today.  Considering The Witch is going to be in quite a few scenes, I'd wager that Meryl is in the thick of things this week already.  I wonder when we'll get set pics!