Tuesday, November 29, 2016

"Florence Foster Jenkins" getting re-release

With awards season looming, Paramount is set to re-release Florence Foster Jenkins in several major cities starting Friday.  No doubt they want to boost the film's presence in the minds of voters.  Golden Globe nominations are announced on Monday, December 12 and SAG two days later.  Glad to see that the studio is taking it seriously.  I think the best chances for Meryl are by far at the Globes, but if she happens to snag a SAG nom in addition to a Globe, Oscar seems within grasp.  BAFTA is real chance this year as well, considering the film's U.K. director/production.

In other unrelated news, in maybe a bit of a surprise announcement, Meryl is going to be honored by The Costume Designers Guild with a 'Career Achievement Award.' The award "honors individuals who demonstrate unwavering support of costume design and creative partnerships with costume designers."  Streep will join designer Jeffrey Kurland in a presentation in Beverly Hills on February 21. I tend to forget that Meryl took her theater degree in costume design, so not surprising that she understands the importance of developing a character through close collaboration with designers.

These two announcements in addition to the Cecil B. DeMille award she's set to receive during the Golden Globe ceremony on January 8 keep her at the forefront of the race, despite the film for which she will hopefully be nominated being released six months ago in the U.K.  I like how things are shaping up for Meryl's chances.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Shoulda Coulda Wouldas #14: "Julieta"

Pedro Almodóvar's 20th film, Julieta, debuted at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.  It was at this time that several articles came out describing how Almodóvar had originally wanted to have Meryl in the title role for his picture.  Sometime after meeting in 2003, the director evidently contacted Meryl and pitched his idea to her about the film.  From what I can understand, this likely would have been after 2009, when Almodóvar purchased the film rights to Alice Munro's book of short stories entitled Runaway.  The interesting twist in the casting was that Streep was to play Julieta (Juliet) at three very different stages of life: ages 20, 40 and 60, without the aide of makeup or special effects, something described by Almodóvar as "Ingrid Bergman-like."  Despite scouting filming areas in both parts of Canada and New York, the director unfortunately didn't feel like he had a comfortable grasp of American culture or the English language to successfully make the film he originally envisioned.

I had the opportunity to see the film this weekend and have to admit that it's difficult for me to imagine Meryl playing the character all by herself, at least if it took place now or in the past five years.  We see Julieta as a young woman and the circumstances around the conception and raising of her child to the age of early adulthood.  The nature of the story goes back and forth between different points in time and actually begins with her likely in her early 50s, wondering about the whereabouts of her now estranged daughter.  I understand that it would've taken some artistic license to not break up the role, but Almodóvar apparently believed that Streep deserved to negotiate the entire character herself.  I'm sure that would have been fascinating.

Being that the character spans a couple decades and ages of 20s to 50s/60s, it seems natural to have two characters.  As it pertains to the possibility of Meryl actually being in the film and when it could've been made, I agree that splitting the role between two actresses may be the best way to go.  I totally love the novelty of Streep playing it in its entirety, but if it were to be made with her today, maybe she could've had this be a film she and her daughter Grace could share.  It would be a big role for Grace, but I think she'd be up to it.  Or maybe Kate Winslet?  Streep's part would also then be the smaller of the two.  Were the film to have happened earlier, like five to ten years ago, I'd be more inclined to expect Meryl alone.

Where I struggle in my brain of course is trying to fit this film into the "reimagined filmography" timeline that I've created for myself.  Could we switch this with 2007's Dirty Tricks?  I realize that Almodóvar didn't even purchase the film rights to Runaway until 2009, but the book was published in 2004 and often we see film versions of books within a couple years.  We also know that Ryan Murphy still has the rights to Dirty Tricks.  Martha Mitchell would have been in her mid 50's at the time of that story surrounding the Watergate scandal, no problem for Meryl age-wise, and a political film release in 2017 would absolutely capture the zeitgeist.  After all considerations, however, being that Almodóvar's main reason for not making this in English was that he struggled with the language, if it were going to happen with Meryl, it was going to happen later than sooner.

Nothing has to be decided at this moment, but Julieta is a lovely film and very interesting character.  Any chance Meryl would have to work on a project with an auteur director needs to be snatched up, so it's a shame we weren't able to see this ultimately come together with Almodóvar and Streep.  Add it to the list.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Streep to make big bucks for "The Nix"

Among other sources, Vanity Fair reported the other day that Meryl's salary has been revealed for the upcoming limited series adaptation of Nathan Hill's novel The Nix.  $825,000 per episode.  Now before you think that this is a crazy number for a single television episode, let's remember that it's quite possible that the entire series is fewer than five episodes, and based on the book, I wouldn't be surprised if Meryl is not in all of them.

What I get most out of this info is that The Nix is likely a sure thing.  I can't imagine we'd have salary negotiations public if this weren't really going to happen.  Still no word on when filming is set to begin, other cast members or even which network will air it, but considering the project was only announced two months ago, this news is good.

I still really want a great film lead role for Streep, though.  In the Vanity Fair article cited above, it was mentioned that Robert De Niro would also be making a haul for his work in David O. Russel's upcoming mafia television project that apparently is set to air in 2017.  De Niro has so many acting projects going at this point that it's difficult to see how he'd be able to squeeze in The Good House at any point over the next year with Meryl.  That's of course assuming that that project isn't totally dead, which it probably is.  Still carrying the torch of hope for that one.  Regardless, glad to know there's at least something in the pipeline besides Mary Poppins Returns. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Sizing up the 2016 competition: Amy Adams in "Arrival"

I don't think I had seen a movie in an actual theater since seeing Flo Fo in London in July, but this weekend Joe and I had some time to kill on Saturday while in Madison for his dad's birthday.  Not really realizing that Arrival had opened, it was the perfect flick to catch that afternoon, and it provided an opportunity for me to see the first contender for Best Actress (besides Meryl of course) in action.

Super quick synopsis: linguist Louise Banks (Adams) is tasked with trying to communicate with aliens that have landed in various parts of the world.  She essentially deciphers their language and learns that it allows one to think a different way, where essentially time ceases to be linear, providing glimpses into the future.

The main attraction here is the story, not so much the characters, in my opinion.  Adams does a great job with her character, in that she had to portray a someone at different levels of awareness of her own experiences.  What dos that mean?  Basically that she had to grapple with these flashbacks/flashforwards while simultaneously dealing with the overwhelming pressure from the government to prevent war.  I can't help but be reminded of Sandra Bullock in Gravity.  Sort of sci-fi, female professional, loss of young daughter, isolation, pressure-cooker scenarios.  Likewise certainly nomination worthy.

Great strengths for this film are that it is very well received by critics (93% on Rotten Tomatoes) and will perform spectacularly strongly in cinemas.  Florence Foster Jenkins similarly garnered good to great reviews, but its summer release and meager box office returns no doubt put it at a disadvantage as far as visibility.  Then again, Meryl is kind of in her own category when it comes to nominations.  When comparing characters and performances only, Meryl wins hands down between these two.  Of course I'm biased, but I expect I may be singing a different tune after I see Jackie.  Until then, I have to say Meryl is still in first place.  Many more to come.   

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Thinking about Susan B. Anthony

Last night went the opposite of how I had hoped.  Like many this morning I felt sad (still do), disappointed and disturbed by the election of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton for president of the United States.  Frankly, I'm embarrassed for my country.  In some small way maybe posting about this will provide a bit of catharsis.  I saw a quote earlier today that read something like "it's not the political loss we mourn, it's the loss of humanity."  That kind of sums it up.  Trump presented himself as one of the worst people I've ever seen request my vote.  His policy plans aside (which are ca-razy), he has unfortunately emboldened an undercurrent of racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia in our country.  It's 2016.

That said, I'm not rioting in the streets or telling friends on Facebook to delete me if they voted third party.  We get a choice.  And now we have to allow president-elect Trump the opportunity to lead.  My hope is that we'll be as wrong about his presidency as we were about who was going to get elected.  Let's remember that Hillary Clinton still made history.  She was the closest any woman has ever gotten to being president of the U.S.  It's a shame it didn't happen this time (the reasons for which I won't get into), but I'm trying to be practical about it from an historical standpoint.  That got me thinking about Susan B. Anthony, and therefore Meryl, of course.  Yesterday at Anthony's grave in Rochester, New York, the scene was almost that of a pilgrimage site, with thousands paying respects to this pioneer, on a day where many cast their votes for a possible female president for the first time in their lives. I find solace after Clinton's loss in the fact that Anthony worked most of her long life for a result she was never able to enjoy in her lifetime.  Women's suffrage eventually happened though, in large part due to that work.  We won't always win on the first or second, or maybe even third try.  But each loss can serve to further mobilize efforts to continue fighting for what is right.

I'm sure Meryl is bummed today as well.  We know she was a vocal supporter of Clinton during the campaign.  People are now going to be even hungrier to see a woman take the top office in the future.  I certainly hope for Meryl's and everyone's sake that it happens in her lifetime.  Who knows?  Maybe all the fuss over this election cycle will spark interest in finally getting a film adaptation of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton's work brought to the silver screen, as I've previously wished.  Regardless, starting today I'm sure a lot of us are thinking #ElizabethWarren2020.  Take care of each other, America.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Streep to receive Cecil B. DeMille Award

Well this is a surprise.  Multiple sources reported a bit earlier today that Meryl will be the latest recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award, given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association at the Golden Globes ceremony in January.  Although I wasn't expecting this news, it was a matter of time before Streep was chosen for this recognition, so I suppose now is as good a time as any.

One of the fun parts about this is that it's fairly likely that Meryl would be at the ceremony anyway if/when she gets her 30th overall Globe nomination (a record, of course) for Florence Foster Jenkins.  I've been trying think if there has been anyone who received the DeMille Award and also been nominated that year in a regular acting category.  I'm sure it's easy to search out, but wouldn't be surprised if Meryl is the first.

It'll be fun to watch the tribute to Meryl during the ceremony, and this news also adds to the publicity/campaign for a possible 20th Academy Award nom (again, a record) for Florence.  


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

John Logan named showrunner for "The Nix"

The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that John Logan (Showtime's Penny Dreadful) been named the showrunner and executive producer of The Nix.  I had to look up exactly what "showrunner" involved, and its definition is exactly what I expected: the person who has creative authority and management responsibility for a television program.  This is the first news on this project since Meryl's involvement was announced in early September.

It's great to learn that this is moving forward.  No news on who will be adapting the novel for the limited series, nor has a network been named.  To this point, Streep is the only actor attached to star, while J.J. Abrams, one of the producers, is expected to direct a portion of the series.

I finished the novel this weekend and have to say that I'm a little perplexed as to how Meryl was drawn to this story as far it potentially providing a juicy role.  Her character of Faye is incredibly complex, it's just that over the course of the 620-page book, the 60 year-old Faye is present for about 50 pages.  It seems more likely that since Meryl is a co-producer (which she hardly ever does) she was more attracted to the overall story.  It spans several decades and delves into the American political landscape of both the 60's and present day.  Author Nathan Hill does a brilliant job weaving the characters' interactions over the years and how it shapes Faye and her son, Samuel.  I can't imagine how they'll make a screen version of this without having a "younger" Meryl cast.  This could also be a huge opportunity for a 30-something actor in the role of Samuel.  I'm excited to hopefully hear more news soon on casting.

With this news, I imagine that we could see filming sometime in the second half of 2017.