2/24 OSCARWEB ROUND-UP: Hanks to present two off the bat, Elton John on Best Actress, Twitter Best Pic reviews

Posted by · 9:07 am · February 24th, 2011

Pete Hammond reports that Tom Hanks will present Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography to start the show, so we’ll know very quickly if a sweep for “The King’s Speech” is afoot. [Deadline]

Glenn Kenny talks up the underrated “Shutter Island” a year after its release. [The Film Talk]

It’s been a week of celebrity Oscar picks, more than ever.  Here’s Elton John’s call for Best Actress. [Inside Movies]

Melena Ryzik chats with “True Grit” costume designer Mary Zophres. [The Carpetbagger]

Reviewing the Best Picture contenders, Twitter-style. [MTV Movies Blog]

“EW’s xenophobic list of the ’25 greatest working directors’ shows poor understanding of the word ‘greatest.'” [Film School Rejects]

Tim Appelo on the power of histrionics in an Oscar race. [The Race]

[Photo: Paramount Pictures]




→ 27 Comments Tags: , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

27 responses so far

  • 1 2-24-2011 at 9:34 am

    red_wine said...

    “People are impressed by aggressive bad acting,” snaps critic Charles Taylor. “If Bale wins, [Leo and Bale] might be the worst pair of supporting winners since Helen Hayes and John Mills chewed their way to victory 40 years ago.”

    Best Supporting Actor lock Bale’s performance is, as Tricia Romano notes, “The acting equivalent of a Kanye West ALL CAPS LOCK blog entry.”

    Truer words have never been spoken. But supporting wins will be awful if indeed the The King’s Speech can’t get its supporting players to upset.

    And that director list is so truly xenophobic. The wide spread hatred or rather indifference towards foreign language films in popular culture is distressing if not horrifying.

  • 2 2-24-2011 at 9:42 am

    Graysmith said...

    Nice to see Hanks presenting something other than Best Director or Best Picture for once. Now I’m actually not sure at all who of the announced presenters is going to get the BP honours.. It’d be nice if for once it wasn’t the most senior, expected choice.

  • 3 2-24-2011 at 9:42 am

    JJ1 said...

    I would think that putting up Cin and Art D right away – and if the winners are TKS – than it would make for very bad tv. You’d think that wouldn’t be the reasoning to put those 2 categories up first.

  • 4 2-24-2011 at 9:49 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    So bored of all the talk about Bale and Leo overacting. Take a look at the people they’re playing — both performances are pretty accurately pitched. You can take issue with their technique if you like, but “over-the-top” or “scenery-chewing” are thoughtless critical shortcuts in this case.

  • 5 2-24-2011 at 9:56 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    It’s not the over-the-top nature of Leo’s performance that bugs me. It’s the lack of a tangible character soul and the self-awareness of performance that drowns it out. Unlike Bale, IMO.

  • 6 2-24-2011 at 10:06 am

    Speaking English said...

    I think Bale and Leo would be two of the BEST Supporting wins of the last decade at least.

  • 7 2-24-2011 at 10:17 am

    Conor said...

    I think that piece kind of searched for evidence that wasn’t there. Is Firth really that “loud,” and if so, how should he have underacted it?

    I’d also argue that Black Swan itself was louder than its lead performance, and that the article’s author is confusing that.

  • 8 2-24-2011 at 11:06 am

    the other mike said...

    elton john got an opinion on everything.

  • 9 2-24-2011 at 11:19 am

    Maxim said...

    I think that Elton was way too dismissive towards the songs, in that he not only disliked them but, more importantly, showed a lack of understanding of why they sounded the way that they sounded.

  • 10 2-24-2011 at 11:29 am

    Loyal said...

    As for the first two awards of the night, I’m not expecting either to go to The King’s Speech, though Art Direction is certainly a possibility.

    Oddly enough, I think Score is where it’s at in the “Will it or won’t it” King’s Speech debate.

  • 11 2-24-2011 at 11:32 am

    Maxim said...

    One more thing, Film School Rejects make a valid point with the fact that EW’s list seems to ignore most of the world (though one has to wonder if that’s just the result of ignorance as opposed to xenophobia) but their argument is completely invalid:

    “we’re counting down the most talented, in-demand filmmakers behind the camera today.”

    So basically… they have to be living directors.”

    No, that’s not what that means at all. Being active does not automatically qualify one for EW’s admitedly dumb criteria.

    I wish EW didn’t hide behind “in-demand” *whatever that actually means) to justify their picks both because it makes it all to easy to cut down the list of cadidates and because it serves to dimish the accomplishment of those few who are actually worthy to be there.

    Pretty sorry list, overall.

  • 12 2-24-2011 at 1:42 pm

    Rashad said...

    “The wide spread hatred or rather indifference towards foreign language films in popular culture is distressing if not horrifying.”

    Jesus you can’t be serious? There are far more English language directors that are better and weren’t even on the list. Crying about foreign films is about the most pathetic thing a film fan can do

  • 13 2-24-2011 at 5:25 pm

    James D. said...

    I love Glenn Kenny and The Film Talk. I need to check both far more often.

  • 14 2-24-2011 at 7:29 pm

    austin111 said...

    Loved the commentary on The Film Talk about Shutter Island. I also think Shutter Island is extraordinarily underrated and under appreciated and that it is very much, and I can’t emphasize that enough, a personal Scorsese film that absolutely captures his philosophy and exacting appreciation of film. It’s also his best collaboration with DiCaprio. If they never make another film together, this one is going to be the one that stands out.

  • 15 2-24-2011 at 8:03 pm

    James D. said...

    Looking at that list of “working directors” again, I am a little puzzled. Is Clint Eastwood on there for films he has made in the last few years, or for the entirety of his career? They list Scorsese, but mostly talk about his older work. If you think his newer work makes him great, then so be it, but it is weird to highlight thirty year old movies. If that was the case, Coppola should be number one for his work in the seventies, although I would put him on for Tetro.

  • 16 2-24-2011 at 9:47 pm

    SceneryChewing? said...

    “It’s not the over-the-top nature of Leo’s performance that bugs me. It’s the lack of a tangible character soul and the self-awareness of performance that drowns it out. Unlike Bale, IMO.”

    Well, have a look at this clip:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTb085NFa3E

    Some things to note:

    All the performances are pitched on about the same register. Leo and Bale don’t overact, and Adams and Wahlberg don’t underact, all four are recognizably acting in the same film.

    Leo’s delivery of her lines only starts to sound fake or overdone when her CHARACTER starts losing her cool and resorts to pretense or guilt trips: “I’m sorry, I don’t know who you are, why’re you talking?…” “I have done everything for you Micky…. this MTV girl comes along…” etc.

    This is how Alice deals with feeling under siege and embattled: she fights back with a snippy, hostile remark, then a little guilt trip. The way Leo makes her lines sound just a touch fake and unreal at these pivotal moments is a sign of deftness and subtlety, not applied-with-a-trowel scenery chewing. So the claim that she does nothing but indiscriminate scenery-chewing is clearly false. This is the farthest possible thing from Helen Hayes in Airport.

    Now notice her body language and line delivery, the way she’s all tense with anger: “You gonna let her talk like that to your mother?” She says it she means it, with real anger, in a very quiet, aggrieved tone. That’s exactly how people talk when they’re deeply offended. A shameless scenery-chewer would play it big, and wave around their cigarette more. The real sign of a ham is when they overact smoking. Leo doesn’t.

    It’s only when Micky doesn’t take the bait, take the emotional blackmail, that she turns on the guilt trip. A lot of her lines sound exaggerated, but it’s when ALICE HERSELF is letting loose her inner drama queen: “I know you don’t undahstand, but I had nine kids and I loved every one uh ya the same….” THAT’s when the overacting kicks in – which is a justified, totally legit acting choice, since it’s ALICE’S overacting, ALICE’s theatrics, not Leo’s. When ALICE lays on the emotional manipulation with a trowel, THAT’S when Leo’s head starts bobbing and arms start flying and gestures start looking distinctly exaggerated.

    This is a key aspect of Leo’s performance that the naysayers are missing. This facet obviously flew right over Charles Taylor’s head; but then, Taylor has never been the brightest bulb in the socket. This is also, obviously, not a characterization that lacks a “tangible soul,” since it requires a fairly clear conception of who this women is to play it the way Leo plays it. She’s not just randomly playing stuff, there’s a recognizable, stable interpretation here.

    Charles Taylor’s claim about this being the worst result in 40 years is wishful thinking on his part. There’s no way, should these two win, it’ll be remembered like Hayes and Mills – even at the time, Hayes wasn’t considered a deserved win, even by Hayes herself!

    The performances aren’t simply scenery-chewing, no matter what Taylor and other bad, unobservant movie reviewers of his low caliber would like to believe: in the clips available on Youtube, most of the acting isn’t, in actual fact, pitched on a more cartoonish or caricatured level than a hundred other Oscar nominated performances you could name – and that includes some performances from past years these very same critical detractors have heralded.

  • 17 2-24-2011 at 10:11 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    A good clip to show why Adams gives the more realized and fuller performance.

  • 18 2-24-2011 at 11:20 pm

    SceneryChewing? said...

    “A good clip to show why Adams gives the more realized and fuller performance.”

    Nice try – but I provide concrete evidence for my claim. You don’t – at all.

    My claim is based on close analysis, close reading of what the actors are doing in the scene.
    You, on the other hand, like Charles Taylor, offer no evidence for you opinion.

  • 19 2-24-2011 at 11:24 pm

    SceneryChewing? said...

    Furthermore – do you not get, Mr. Tapley, what it is that critics are supposed to do?

    I just offered up a careful reading, a specific interpretation, of what I believe Leo to be doing. If you don’t like my interpretation, or agree with it, fine. But don’t just offer up a snotty little passive-aggressive remark and think you’ve refuted anything.

    I just argued, based on a close reading of the clip, why Leo’s performance is NOT simply scenery-chewing or a caricature. The sure sign someone doesn’t have a leg to stand on is that they don’t have any counter-argument other than passive-aggressive snottiness.

  • 20 2-24-2011 at 11:47 pm

    SceneryChewing? said...

    Another clip to demonstrate my point about what Leo is doing:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qmjAqkRCjc

    How exactly are Wahlberg and Adams doing something radically different than what Leo’s doing? If Adams is more “realized” and “fuller,” how and what does this greater fullness and truthfulness consist of?

    Listen carefully to the way she speaks starting at about 0:54. She starts putting on her play for sympathy, her hand gestures start getting bigger, she’s working herself up. “I know you don’t understand it but i had nine kids…” her speech patterns get more dramatic, she gestures with her hands in a dramatic way…. “…and I love every one of you the same….” but does she really? No, Dicky is her favorite. The more exaggerated and mannered she gets, the more it’s a sign she’s not being completely truthful.

    This is a key part of her character: Alice is a drama queen. This is interesting, because it suggests one source of family conflict.

    Take a closer look at the performance: there’s a reason behind the big gestures. A very interesting and intricate performance indeed – and nothing at all like Helen Hayes.

  • 21 2-24-2011 at 11:57 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Nice try yourself. There is no such thing as “evidence” with something like this. You explain mannerisms, which don’t, to me, translate to a fully fleshed out performance.

    At the end of the day, if an actor doesn’t look natural in a performance, it’s a drawback for me. Leo doesn’t seem comfortable in Alice’s skin, unlike Wahlberg and especially Adams. You can disagree, but don’t try to “prove” a subjective point. It’s silly.

    “But don’t just offer up a snotty little passive-aggressive remark and think you’ve refuted anything.”

    I’ll do what I like. It’s my house you’re standing in. But it wasn’t snotty, it was an honest reaction to the clip you chose to post. And your name-calling doesn’t change that.

    So…grow up.

  • 22 2-25-2011 at 12:00 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    By the way, your attempt at an Acting 101 lecture is thin at best. Again, all you’re doing is recalling (very basic) performing choices. There is no substance to your critiques, as far as I can tell. Just you reading something into it that, in my opinion, isn’t there. But that’s the nature of perspective. I clearly see something in Adams’s performance that you don’t.

  • 23 2-25-2011 at 1:01 am

    SceneryChewing? said...

    “Nice try yourself. There is no such thing as “evidence” with something like this. You explain mannerisms, which don’t, to me, translate to a fully fleshed out performance.”

    Dear Mr. Tapley:

    Obviously no one can “prove” a performance is good or bad, just as no one can “prove” a particular poem, novel, or painting is good or bad.

    However, it certainly is possible, and in fact necessary, for critics to interpret the works of art they evaluate. Evaluation without intrepretation is clinically brain dead. And interpretation means paying rigorously close attention to detail.

    For example, when literary critics decide Emily Dickinson’s “The Tint I Cannot Take is Best” is a great poem, they generally provide a close reading of the poem to go along with their assessment. That is, the good ones do.

    There certainly IS such a thing as “evidence” in cases like that – because there is such a thing as “evidence” in ALL evaluations of art. This “evidence,” which you deny exists, is discussed constantly when it comes to books. No critic worth their salt would ever say “there’s no such thing as evidence in aesthetics.” There’s no such thing as final proofs or permanently closed debates – the discussion never gets completely finished and finalized – but that’s a far cry from saying there’s no such thing as EVIDENCE at all. There are specific words in a specific order on a sheet of paper. There are specific gestures, specific tones of voice, specific camera angles on a piece of celluloid. That’s concrete evidence of something. We can disagree on what those sentences or moving images mean, but not on their actual existence.

    You wouldn’t say this – at least I hope you wouldn’t – if you were talking about analyzing a poem or a passage in a novel.

    I’m discussing mannerisms, yeah – exactly as a literary critic would discuss the actual words on the page. Since mannerisms, gestures, voices, speech patterns are the component parts that make up a performance, there’s no way to really evaluate a performance without paying close attention to mannerisms and then interpreting them. The question every movie critic should be asking is – what can we infer about this character from the specific choices the character’s portrayer made? What do her choices imply about the inner life and psychology of this character? What sort of person is she?

    Just as there’s no way to say anything meaningful about a piece of literature without paying attention to the actual sentences the writer wrote! This is pretty elementary stuff, Kris.

    I’m drawing attention to a specific detail I’ve noticed about Leo’s portrayal, that most critics – especially her detractors – seem not to have noticed – which is this: her performance becomes especially “scenery chewing” and “exaggerated” and “artificial” and “histrionic” when her character, Alice Ward, is resorting to pity pleas or feels threatened in some way.

    There’s a qualitative difference between an ACTRESS who comes off as fake and a CHARACTER who comes off as fake at certain moments, in certain moods, in certain moments of conflict and crisis, when she feels threatened and under siege. That you’d want to shut down this line of inquiry, instead of opening up your mind a little to the possibility that maybe – just maybe – you missed certain crucial details and other people, maybe, just maybe, might have noticed things you didn’t – doesn’t speak well for you or your website.

    “Again, all you’re doing is recalling (very basic) performing choices.”

    Um, no – that’s not all I’m doing. Evidently you have trouble grasping the point underlying these “basic” choices.

    The key point I’m making is that Leo’s “basic” choices at each particular moment can lead us to infer certain things about the deeper nature of the character she’s playing. I am NOT merely saying, “Leo twitched her eyebrow at 0:14 seconds,” I’m saying “Leo reacted such and such a way at such and such a moment and this tells us certain likely things about the human nature of the person she’s portraying.”

    Another fallacy of yours is that whatever your personal likes and dislikes are is the same thing as what is good or bad. But lots of the greatest actors have been scenery-chewers, just as lots have been understated. Bette Davis, by her own admission, liked to the chew the scenery: she openly said she did that on purpose and thought it was a better way to act – even if one disagrees with her philosophy of acting, Davis was still a great actress in many movies. By your logic, Davis must have sucked in Of Human Bondage since her performance is so big and broad.

    “At the end of the day, if an actor doesn’t look natural in a performance, it’s a drawback for me. Leo doesn’t seem comfortable in Alice’s skin, unlike Wahlberg and especially Adams. You can disagree, but don’t try to “prove” a subjective point. It’s silly.”

    No it’s not silly. Much of the acting of previous eras looks “unnatural” to modern audiences, but it’s still great acting. Likewise, the representation of dialogue in many 19th century or 18th century novels – even the best ones – sounds slightly “off” or “artificial” to many modern ears – but this doesn’t tell us much about the quality of the books.

    The logical fallacy of your claim is that you think your personal taste trump any sort of deeper analysis. But it doesn’t. Countless viewers find it hard to watch old movies because of changes in performance styles over time. To them, Brad Pitt might feel more “natural” and “believable in his character’s skin” than Bette Davis, Vivien Leigh, or Marlon Brando. This feeling of theirs, no matter how deeply felt, does NOT mean Pitt is a better actor than Davis, Leigh, Brando.

    You went ga-ga over Portman in Black Swan, but I read several critics who claimed she was totally unconvincing and “unnatural.” In other words, they saw “unnatural” where you saw “natural.” So obviously simply making note of one’s feelings doesn’t amount to anything terribly significant in and of itself. What DOES amount to something is trying to make film analysis more rigorous, and digging down into what the movies are actually about and what they’re trying to say.

    I pointed to an element, a dimension, of Leo’s performance that you didn’t notice. Regardless of whether you connected with her performance or not, it’s anything but “silly” to draw attention to the specifics and the mechanics of her work.

  • 24 2-25-2011 at 1:17 am

    SceneryChewing? said...

    And by the way, as to this:

    “I’ll do what I like. It’s my house you’re standing in.”

    Courtesy is a two-way street. You want constant fawning and suck-ups? Be my guest. Lots of websites have played that game, and found out it was money-losing venture in the long run.

    You want customers, you better treat them with a modicum of respect. Charles Taylor, the aforementioned critic, is the kind of jerk once employed by the loser webzine SALON, which has never turned a profit in 15 years of operation, and is a massive money-losing failed venture to this day. One of the main reasons for this is the arrogant, disrespectful tone employed by its columnists. People simply refuse to become customers of such enterprises.

    Karma’s a bitch, Kris. See how well you’re still doing 10 years from now with an attitude like this: “It’s my house and I’ll do whatever I want.” You need web traffic. You need readers. Your hectoring tone isn’t a smart way to keep them.

  • 25 2-25-2011 at 8:21 am

    bostonbean said...

    “It’s not the over-the-top nature of Leo’s performance that bugs me. It’s the lack of a tangible character soul and the self-awareness of performance that drowns it out. Unlike Bale, IMO.”

    This exactly puts into words why I don’t love that performance as much as everyone else. I just couldn’t put put my finger on why until the above. I do appreciate Leo’s work and she definitely deserves to be nominated. But about the soul aspect I wonder if that was more of a script decision to not give that character the kind shading that Bale’s Dicky has.

  • 26 2-25-2011 at 9:19 am

    SceneryChewing? said...

    But there is a “tangible soul” aspect, Boston Bean – provided by Leo herself – her own shadings and modulations of the “drama queen” dimension of her character – if not the script. The script is generally acknowledged as the weakest element of the film.

  • 27 2-25-2011 at 9:55 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Forgive me, then, SceneryChewing (ironic choice of name, that, given your diatribes). Perhaps I should have written “there is no such thing as OBJECTIVE evidence,” because it’s ultimately filtered through interpretation. And I’ll stand by that.

    By the way, I never used the term “scenery chewing.” I simply said I thought Leo wasn’t organic in the character, that I could see her Acting with a capital “A.” Different thing. And I stand by that, too. You’re free to disagree.

    “Much of the acting of previous eras looks “unnatural” to modern audiences, but it’s still great acting.”

    A subjective point. But in context, sure. Not that that is a point that has anything to do with mine.

    “You went ga-ga over Portman in Black Swan, but I read several critics who claimed she was totally unconvincing and “unnatural.” In other words, they saw “unnatural” where you saw “natural.””

    Very much my point. People have different perspectives. But I didn’t see natural, by the way. It’s a completely different dynamic. I don’t see Portman’s performance in “Black Swan” as a real character so much as a heightened disposition, abstract in that way, and therefore, very much given to broad gestures, internal and external.

    “The logical fallacy of your claim is that you think your personal taste trump any sort of deeper analysis.”

    I never said that, though the consistent use of the word “fallacy” in your responses reveals your own arrogance. Your personal opinion doesn’t represent “the truth,” ironically the point you’re trying to slap me with with that statement.

    “I pointed to an element, a dimension, of Leo’s performance that you didn’t notice.”

    No, you didn’t. Don’t pretend you illuminated something for me. You pointed out why you were taken with a particular scene’s performance, and I respect that, but I also respectfully disagree that it is indicative of a great performance.

    “You want customers, you better treat them with a modicum of respect.”

    Excuse me if challenging your point by calmly and harmlessly noting that the clip you posted was, to me, indicative of another performer’s finer work was somehow disrespectful. It was anything but, and you flew off the rails, offensive and obviously threatened. I’ve said much worse to others. And they to me. We all keep coming back. Though we’re doing quite well financially. Thanks for the faux concern, in any case.

    Basically, you’re arguing in circles and trying to put words in my mouth with beside-the-point tangents about Brad Pitt and Charles Taylor. My basic original point stands. But I appreciate the commitment to changing my mind.