Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Update on reading "The Nix"

I'm about a third of the way through reading The Nix, so, as I said in a previous post that I would, I'm going to briefly provide a few thoughts on what we might be able to suspect from a screen version.  If you don't want any spoilers on the story, you may not want to read any further, but I won't go into super crazy detail.

Most of us have probably already read at least a short synopsis of the main points of the story.  The main character, Samuel, is between a rock and a hard place when a publisher for whom he is supposed to be writing a book drops him and informs him that they're suing for interest.  To prevent this, Samuel agrees to write a book about the backstory of his mother, Faye, who recently became national news for throwing some gravel at a conservative governor who's a prospective candidate for president.  Faye left Samuel and his father without warning when Samuel was eleven years old and is about to come in contact with her again due to his intention to write this tell-all.

Well, as I said, I'm about one third of the way through the 600 book and thus far, the 60 year-old version of Faye has been a character for about five pages.  Although I really enjoy the backstory of Samuel as a child and the events leading up to his mother leaving, I realized pretty quickly that if the limited series truly captures the book cover to cover, Meryl may only be in 2/3 of it.  I also can't imagine how they would not have a younger version of Faye, meaning a different actress.  Meryl can pull off playing someone quite a few years younger than she is, but can she portray late 30's or early 40's?  My guess is no, but if anyone could do that I suppose it would be Meryl.

I'm just getting into the section of where Samuel is seeing his mother again for the first time since he was a child.  The way Faye is described I couldn't help but picture Meryl as Violet Weston, but as she does with every character, if and when this comes to the screen I'm confident she will provide us with a unique and fresh persona.  I'm also confident that the juiciest parts are yet to come, and imagine that the remainder of the book with include much of modern Faye.  I'll be excited to read about her hidden backstory which Samuel is itching to learn himself, including the "why" of her leaving.  At my current point in the book, after Faye provokes Samuel to simply ask the question he's been wanting to ask for twenty years ("why did you leave me?"), her swift response is basically "I can't tell you. It's private." Ouch.

More to come as I read further.  No doubt Faye's reasons and private history will fill us with fun anticipation of how Meryl will negotiate the character.  Until then, let's also continue to wonder when the hell Meryl will have her next leading film role.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Meryl's Oscar chances for "Florence Foster Jenkins"

We're pretty much in the thick of things for Oscar prognostication.  Fall festivals are in swing and the Best Actress race has now shown us its horses.  With all likely contenders known, I'd like to break it down a bit to sort of take the pulse of Meryl's chances.

Firstly, if we simply look at Streep's performance and the quality of the film as reviewed by most critics, she's in terrific shape.  Great to rave reviews for her performance and an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes place her in definite contention.  Florence Foster Jenkins has by no means been a box office juggernaut, but it's sitting at a respectable $26.6m and will likely settle at a little over $27m.  As a summer release, it'll be a tad more challenging to keep Meryl fresh in voters' minds, but she's done quite a bit of press for the film, something she typically only does when the picture can potentially make an awards push.  With most of the above factors in her favor, she's still in my opinion going to be on the bubble.

Natalie Portman shot to the top of many people's list over the last week or two after Jackie debuted at Venice and Toronto.  Viola Davis has been a strong contender from the moment it was announced earlier this year that Fences would get a theatrical release.  Before I go any further, however, I'd like to provide the latest rankings from my go-to Oscar contention source, Awards Watch.  The current monthly poll (190 voters) has the following top ten:

1. Emma Stone (La La Land) 94.74%
2. Natalie Portman (Jackie) 93.16%
3. Viola Davis (Fences) 88.95%
4. Amy Adams (Arrival) 68.95%
5. Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins) 35.26%
6. Ruth Negga (Loving) 31.58%
7. Isabelle Huppert (Elle) 28.42%
8. Annette Bening (20th Century Women) 18.42%
9. Amy Adams (Nocturnal Animals) 7.37%
10. Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane) 6.32%

Ruth Negga for months hovered between 1st and 3rd, but with a few more films actually being seen, the sense I'm getting is that her role isn't flashy enough.  That said, after two years of #OscarSoWhite, I wouldn't be at all surprised if both she and Davis made it in, which would be great.  Emma Stone and Natalie Portman seem like the closest thing to locks at this point.  Considering we haven't even seen a trailer yet for Fences, unless it appears to be a total pile of shit, Davis will be a lock as well.

I'm skeptical about Amy Adams.  Despite fantastic reviews, the sci-fi subject matter of Arrival may be less Academy-friendly than many of the others on the above list.  I'd be thrilled for Bening if she made the top five, but that's seeming less and less likely as the race begins to tighten.  Keep your eye out for Jessica Chastain, however.  Miss Sloane's gun control theme captures the zeitgeist.  This film as well, howeverhas yet to be seen.

Ultimately, I'm glad there's a strong list of contenders, which means there's at least a viable, if not thriving crop of scripts for leading ladies on film.  As more and more actresses move to TV for challenging parts, let's hope the trend continues regardless of whether the screen is big or small.  If I had to guess now, I'd predict Meryl will squeak into the top five.  A Golden Globe nod should be a cinch, and if we see Streep garner of SAG nod as well in December, she'll be in the best position possible for her 20th nomination.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Thoughts on production of "The Nix"

My copy of Nathan Hill's novel The Nix arrived today.  I'm excited to begin reading and being that it's been about a week since it was announced that the book would be turned into a limited series starring our girl, I thought I'd add a few more thoughts.  To my knowledge, there hasn't been any additional info on the details of the project since the day it was announced.  All we know is that J.J. Abrams would be producing (along with Meryl?), it it going to be on television and that Abrams would likely direct at least "a few" episodes.

Certainly there's a lot of info we can find on the actual plot of the story, and readers are of course welcome to explore that info to whatever level of detail they choose.  I'll likely create a post or two as I discover the 600-page tale, but will be sure to add spoiler alerts.

Big things we don't know for sure:  who will write the screenplay, how many episodes there will be, on which network it will air, who will direct, when shooting is likely to begin and of course, who else will star.  The main character sounds like it's actually the son, Samuel, but from what I understand both he and his mom, Faye, seem like leads.  No doubt I'll be picturing Meryl whenever her character is present or referenced in the story, but I'll have to wait and see who comes to mind to portray Samuel.

Thinking about how glad I am that we have at new project to obsess talk about, I couldn't help but look back to the fall of 2014, just after it was announced in October of that year that Streep had signed on for Florence Foster Jenkins.  We essentially had five major projects that were either about to or expected to come to fruition: Into the Woods, Ricki and the Flash (which was filming), Florence Foster Jenkins, The Good House and Master Class.  Now I'm just hoping beyond all hope that The Nix actually sees the light of day, as we know nothing is ever guaranteed.  Considering the fact that Meryl may be co-producing, I agree with a commenter here that it may be more likely to happen if Streep has a stake in the production herself.

Until we get confirmation, I'll just have to remain patient and enjoy envisioning Meryl in the pages of The Nix.  

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Streep in talks for limited television series "The Nix"

As many of you are already finding out, multiple sources are now reporting that Meryl Streep is in talks to star in a limited television series based on Nathan Hill's 2016 novel The Nix.  J.J. Abrams (who in the past has said he'd like to work with Meryl) is set to produce along with Hill, and I've read that Abrams is likely to direct at least a portion of the series.

I had not heard of the novel prior to this news so of course I'm going to have to quickly add it to my reading list.  The snippet of info from the Hollywood Reporter describes the book as:

Hill's critically acclaimed debut novel follows a man named Samuel Andresen-Anderson, whose mother, Faye, reappears decades after she abandoned the family. She becomes the center of controversy for allegedly committing an absurd crime, and Samuel must dig back into her secretive past to try to save her. The novel is described as a sprawling satire that spans from the suburban Midwest to New York City to the 1968 riots that rocked Chicago and beyond.

Sounds like it could be a wonderful role for Meryl and we're getting our appetites whetted with what seems to be a more meaty project from her.  Let's keep in mind however that from what I've read, there is no writer yet (maybe author will do the screenplay) and no dates for when production is set to start.  Simply because Meryl is "in talks" doesn't mean it's a sure thing.  Just ask The Good House.

Regardless, this is one of my favorite times in the trajectory of Meryl's projects.  Learning of the news, and when possible, deep-diving into understanding the material.  Hope this gets off the ground!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Accents Mastered updated

I watched Prime a couple weeks ago and within a minute of Meryl's first scene I realized that I've erred in not including this film as one of her accents mastered.  It doesn't seem like a huge change from Streep's natural voice, but there is definitely a bit of New York in there.  I had every intention of adding the title to this section but am just getting around to it now.

Doing a little searching I figured out that she's doing some form of a Manhattan accent.  Originally I googled "Jewish New York accent" to see if anything specific came up.  As there isn't exactly a "Jewish" accent, it's likely that Yiddish in some way shaped the language of the Jewish community in New York.  As Lisa Metzger lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, we're going with "Upper West Side."

The updated list is as follows:

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 (I think it's also RP)
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)--Northern Irish
Angels in America (2003)--Yiddish and Bronx (in separate roles)
Prime (2005)--Manhattan (specifically Upper West Side)
A Prairie Home Companion (2006)--Upper Midwestern
Doubt (2008)--Bronx
Julie & Julia (2009)--Boston Brahmin
The Iron Lady (2011)--British (again RP)
August: Osage County (2013)--Oklahoman
The Homesman (2014)--Central Plains Midwestern
Suffragette (2015)--British (Received Pronunciation)
Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)--Mid-Atlantic