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By David Poland

Gurus Of Gray – Post-Toronto Wrangling

Penelope Cruz is getting the media committment that might shove her into an actual nomination… George Clooney gets thrown into the ring sight unseen… Love for The Departed starts turning up in earnest… and Dreamgirls, Mirren & Whitaker are your early leaders…
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57 Responses to “Gurus Of Gray – Post-Toronto Wrangling”

  1. EDouglas says:

    People are putting way too much behind Meryl Streep’s SUPPORTING role in Prada. Hopefully the Academy is smart enough to realize that it’s not one of her better roles and not a lead and that others in that category are more deserving of the accolades this year. (Especially since there are so many more great female lead performances than male this year.)

  2. David Poland says:

    Candidates are nominated by studios as candidates, so Streep’s slot will be determined by the studio… unlike HFPA, which sometimes chooses to go off on its own tangent.

  3. Joe Leydon says:

    This reminds me of a rumor floating around a few years ago when “Little Voice” was being pushed early on as an Oscar contender. (Which reminds me: What ever happened to Jane Horrocks?) Allegedly, Miramax wanted to campaign for Michael Caine as a Best Supporting Actor nominee. But Caine — and, remember, this was the rumor, I don’t know if it’s true — insisted that he be promoted in the Best Actor category. Miramax complied — and Caine was not nominated.

  4. wholovesya says:

    Ed, Meryl is not running SUPPORTING. She’s running lead. Ask anyone of your Fox contacts. And it’s a HORRIBLE year for leading actresses (actor too). Leading categories are much easier to get into than the supporting ones this year.

  5. adorian says:

    Has anyone seen “The Painted Veil” yet?
    W. S. Maugham remakes don’t tend to do as well as the originals.

  6. Aladdin Sane says:

    I’ve always liked Forest Whitaker, so it’s cool to see him getting some awards traction this early on. Hopefully it holds, although O’Toole is still my favourite based on name alone – now to see Venus.
    I’m seeing Volver on Sunday, and I’m really looking forward to seeing Cruz in action in a role that’s apparently more suited to her. Should be lots of fun.

  7. James Leer says:

    It’s a horrible year for leading actresses? This is one of the most crowded years I can think of on star wattage alone…Winslet, Cruz, Dench, Bening, Streep, Blanchett, Zellweger…what makes you think Supporting is harder to get into?
    Though wholovesya is right, Meryl is running Lead. Yes, it was a supporting performance essentially, but she was first-billed and she WANTS it.

  8. Nicol D says:

    I don’t care much about the Oscars, but I must say I am intrigued by Nicole Kidman and Robert Downey Jr. in Arbus.
    Many actors/actresses ride along on hyperbole to the Oscars but these two are the real deal.
    Hope the film is worthy of their talents.

  9. James Leer says:

    Oh, Nicol, I can’t imagine you liking that movie. As far as Oscars go, “Fur” is even more challenging and divisive than “Birth,” where Kidman gave a great performance in a film that people either loved or hated. There’s not a chance this film will have the mainstream acceptance needed to run the Oscar derby…but that’s fine, because it wasn’t made for that.

  10. Hopscotch says:

    Surprising that there aren’t any clear clear Best Actor favorites. this time last year there were roughly half a dozen.
    Helen Mirren for Best Actress win. BET ON IT. Can’t wait for Little Children.

  11. Sam says:

    So does that mean Kate Winslet will run 6-0, and the Oscar she’s been owed for so long will elude her still? Alas.

  12. Nicol D says:

    “Oh, Nicol, I can’t imagine you liking that movie. As far as Oscars go, “Fur” is even more challenging and divisive than “Birth,…”
    Then I guess it’s all settled. James Leer says I won’t like Arbus. Thanks for knowing me better than I know myself.

  13. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    “And it’s a HORRIBLE year for leading actresses (actor too). Leading categories are much easier to get into than the supporting ones this year.”
    Lead Actress looks to actually be quite crowded this year. Apart from the people we all know are right in there, Streep, Mirren, Bening, Winslet and Cruz (my predicted 5 atm) there are also Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman (who i don’t think will be in the hunt to be honest but it IS possible and she looks great in Fur) and then there are the smaller ones that could rise up with Globe/critics love like Beyonce, Maggie Gyllenhall, Kirsten Dunst, Gretchen Mol, Ashley Judd, Renee Zellweger, Sarah Jessica Parker and yes, even Sienna Miller.
    I saw The Devil Wears Prada last night and I see the role as a lead. The story may indeed be Anne’s but Meryl is always present. If Anthony Hopkins can be a Lead actor for Silence of the Lambs then this shouldn’t be an issue.
    But, yeah, considering you have Streep, Winslet and Mirren seemingly locks for nominations and Bening seeming right there with them and Cruz looking more solid by the day… and then compare that to Best Actor, which looks boring as batshit.
    Sam, if Kate is nominated for Little Children it will be her fifth nom, not sixth.
    And does anyone else realise that if they give the statue to Winslet, they’re essentially still keeping it in the “young beauty” area that they’ve had for the last decade? She’s only 30/31/whatever. They can award her and still keep their penis happy.

  14. James Leer says:

    Sarah Jessica Parker?
    Nicol, if you knew enough to know what the film was called, I’d feel for you more.

  15. Nicol D says:

    Well James, the film is technically listed on IMDB as “Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus”.
    So you calling it Fur is every bit the abbreviation of me calling it Arbus.
    But now I really am hurt. In one post you seem to know my inner most filmic desires, now you say you feel little for me at all.
    I feel so dirty…and used.

  16. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    James, Sarah has Spinning Into Butter, adapted from a stage play I believe, which was supposedly quite good.

  17. Joe Leydon says:

    Friday numbers just in from
    Title/ Daily /Total
    Open Season 6.3 6.3
    Guardian, The 5.8 5.8
    Jackass: Number Two 4.5 41.9
    School For Scoundrels 2.7 2.7
    Jet Li’s Fearless (Huo Yuan Jia) 1.4 14.5

  18. EDouglas says:

    I’m well aware that Fox is pushing Meryl as the lead but it’s bullshit. Anne Hathaway is the lead in the book and the movie and Streep is only one of many obstacles she faces in her new job.
    But are you kidding? This is a great year for leading actresses! There are already 7 to 10 potential candidates even before anyone has seen many of the movies coming out later this year. On the other hand, there aren’t nearly as many strong male leads as previous years with a lot more ensemble casts (Departed/Flags of our Fathers).

  19. EDouglas says:

    Anyone want to place bets that Fox moves Meryl to supporting once they see the competition? She stands no chance of winning lead while she could stand out in supporting like with Adaptation.

  20. James Leer says:

    I don’t think “Spinning Into Butter” has a release date or even a distributor yet.

  21. jeffmcm says:

    I disagree that it’s ‘bullshit’ to consider Meryl for leading actress. While narratively her character is indeed a secondary character after Hathaway’s, they have close to equal time in the movie and performance-wise Streep is head and shoulders above Hathaway. The quality of the performance is such that it renders other considerations trivial. Plus, if you asked most people to describe the movie they would call it ‘that movie where Meryl Streep is the bitchy boss’, not ‘that movie where Anne Hathaway has a bitchy boss.’

  22. The Carpetmuncher says:

    I’m not sure quality of performance should really be the barometer that separates a lead nom from a supporting, that seems patently ridiculous, even if it does occasionally occur (the Hopkins example was given).
    Meryl was amazing, but it was clearly a supporting role, whether Fox wants her nominated for leading actress or not. Not sure how anyone can dispute that without twisting what a lead is, which is what people are straining to do here.
    That being said, Meryl was wonderful, and is deserving of that supporting nod, if not to win depending on competition, and it was an important role for her (if slight) in that it introduced her to a whole new generation of fans who came out to see Ms. Hathaway, yes, the ones who said, who was that fabulous woman who was Anne Hathaway’s boss?
    Blanchett I assume people are talking about for THE GOOD whatever that she’s in? Because while she’s always excellent, she didn’t really do enough in BABEL to warrant a nom IMO.
    I adored VOLVER, but was Penelope that amazing, or is she just that beautiful? It wasn’t a very sophisticated performance IMO, so I’m not looking at her as a frontrunner, but wouldn’t be surprised, or upset if she got in. Can’t see her winning though.
    Haven’t seen THE QUEEN, but if the rumors of her greatness are accurate Mirren looks like she’s has a great shot of winning this one…

  23. jeffmcm says:

    It doesn’t take much strain. The movie essentially has two leads and Streep is the one you’re watching when she’s on screen, not Hathaway. Just because Hathaway has the ‘character arc’ doesn’t mean she’s really significantly more important to the overall film. I would say that restricting Streep to ‘supporting’ requires an overly constrictive view of how the movie works.
    I really have a hard time believing that there are people out there who are Anne Hathaway fans who haven’t heard of Streep.

  24. I think there’s a lot of “twisting” going on here, frankly. By all this reasoning, Ben Kingsley is a lead in “Sexy Beast.” Or Jack is a lead in “The Departed” (apparently a strategy WB is considering taking, which is a poor and greedy decision if you ask me.)

  25. jeffmcm says:

    Ben Kingsley _is_ co-lead in Sexy Beast. I hain’t seen The Departed so no comment.

  26. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Do anyone really believe the teenage girls who’ve followed Anne Hathaway from THE PRINCESS DIARIES and ELLA ENCHANTED are steeped in Meryl Streep’s filmography? That’d be quite a stretch. And even after Prada, I don’t know many art house denizens who are dying to go to the next Hathaway film.
    In terms of who’s the lead, there clearly seems to be a disagreement between some folks who are talking story structure and others who are talking “significance” or whatever, which is arbitrary. In terms of story, the one with the character arc is the lead, just about every time. Just ask Aristotle.
    There’s no doubt Streep is the show in Prada – the rest of the movie (excepting a fine Stanley Tucci) is a big stinker. But if you’re talking story, Simon Baker’s character is probably more significant than Streep’s antagonist. It’s only when you’re talking about the hype or who’s better that Streep becomes so important or significant.
    BTW, props to James Leer, glad you didn’t pop yourself with that cap gun…

  27. EDouglas says:

    “Or Jack is a lead in “The Departed” (apparently a strategy WB is considering taking, which is a poor and greedy decision if you ask me.)”
    I agree..but it worked to put Clooney in supporting and he was clearly the lead in Syriana.

  28. jeffmcm says:

    You’re right to make that distinction. On the script page, Hathaway’s character is the sole lead. But on the screen, they are both the stars of the show. Bringing Simon Baker into it proves how much more significant Streep is to the movie, given how little he adds to a ‘more significant’ post in the script.

  29. EDouglas says:

    When you compare the performance by Streep to the delivery of Mirren in The Queen, it’s even more obvious that she doesn’t deserve to be nominated in the lead category.

  30. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Streep was named above Hathaway on the poster, btw.
    “In terms of story, the one with the character arc is the lead, just about every time. Just ask Aristotle.”
    The Streep/Hathaway thing reminds me of Training Day. Ethan Hawke had the real character arc and was in it more than Denzel Washington, yet Washington had the bigger performance on screen. Washington, as we know, was nominated for a won Best Actor while Ethan Hawke was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.
    Also, you could say that in The Hours Streep and Moore had more of a character arc (and more screentime) than Nicole Kidman, but Kidman was seen as the film’s central figure, much like Streep is in The Devil Wears Prada.
    It’s a shame though that Prada won’t be seeing nominations for it’s Costumes, Art Direction and even Editing. I’d love to see Emily Blunt to Stanley Tucci really in the running though.

  31. James Leer says:

    I actually wouldn’t be surprised to see Emily Blunt in there for Supporting. It was a well-seen, well-liked role. That goes a long way.

  32. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Plus she’s young and hot and British. And, ya know, she was good. But Supporting Actress is always competitive.
    The thing that the campaigner for Prada need to do is try to downplay the popcornyness of it all, I reckon. Make sure it’s taken seriously. Classy. Being a comedy means it’s already got major hurdles, what they don’t need is to be labeled a lightweight.

  33. jeffmcm says:

    For Streep they could just emphasize the scenes at the end where SPOILERS her divorce is coming on strong, that was strong non-comedic stuff.
    Unfortunately, in my opinion, the Oscar push will be hurt by the fact that the movie is indeed lightweight material.

  34. EDouglas says:

    But Jeff, that was ONE SCENE… not enough for her role to be considered a lead. Heck, she probably only had a little more time in this movie than Virginia Madsen in Sideways or Cate Blanchett in The Aviator, both supporting roles.

  35. jeffmcm says:

    I’m saying that one scene would help her be considered seriously and not as a mere comedic performance as KCamel suggested.
    That one scene adds depth to what was already a leading performance in the film even before you get to it.
    Virginia Madsen and Cate Blanchett are indeed supporting characters in those films. I would be surprised if they had as much screentime as Streep does, though (I’m sure Blanchett doesn’t in The Aviator) and even if they do it helps to prove my point as an indicator of how dominant Streep is in the movie.
    I really think you’re being constricted by thinking of the film as an essentially literary construction and not as a visual medium where ‘the character who has the arc’ does not really matter as much as the character who does and says the most interesting things, in my opinion.

  36. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Emily Blunt was borderline horrible if you ask me, and she won’t come anywhere near a nomination, not sure what folks are smoking on that one…

  37. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Emily Blunt was borderline horrible if you ask me, and she won’t come anywhere near a nomination, not unless there’s a new award for bad make-up.

  38. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Emily Blunt was borderline horrible, there’s no chance she gets a nomination, unless there’s a new award for bad make-up.

  39. James Leer says:

    Tell us how you really feel, Carpetmuncher.

  40. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    To continue on what Jeff was saying about Madsen and Blanchett. Blanchett was in about half of a three hour movie and once she leaves, her presence isn’t felt. And Virginia Madsen? She’s not there at the start, middle and end. The entire movie isn’t about her.
    But when Streep is off screen she’s still there. You want them to return to Streep. So while in terms of screentime or character arc (which is bullshit if you ask me, firstly arc doesn’t matter in lead/supporting cases – see Training Day and The Hours as I already mentioned – and secondly Miranda does indeed have an arc) Meryl Streep may not be a true Lead, the gravity that she brings to the movie and the way that she grounds it and the way the movie is about people reacting to her, I think, makes it a Lead performance.
    And, you know what will seal the deal for Meryl being nominated I think. A FYC ad with a shot of her from the “make up off” scene. Seeing a woman such as Meryl on an ad sans makeup will be seen as brave (surely in Hollywood it will, right?). Add that to the fact that it’s a big ol’ grand performance…

  41. jeffmcm says:

    KCamel, you said it all much better than I did.

  42. EDouglas says:

    KC: Totally disagree… anyone who is making this movie about Streep’s character has read too much journalistic hyperbole instead of watching the movie I got much more out of Hathaway, Blunt and Tucci and how they interacted. Streep’s “great performance” was really that one scene where we get behind the facade… but compared to Mirren and some of the other lead actress candidates (who I’m sure you haven’t seen yet), it’s not even close to the caliber of overall performance, and putting her in that category is an insult to the hard work of everyone else in that movie (though I’m sure they won’t mind since they all are in love with Streep, too).
    The Academy completely ignored Shirley MacLaine and Diane Keaton last year, both who gave great performances last year…what does that tell me? That Fox was focusing all of its time and money on Walk the Line and it mostly worked (no BP nomination!?)…can’t think of what else they’d focus on, but trying to get another nomination for Streep is probably not a priority.
    I’m sure Streep will get a Golden Globe nomination in the comedy category… if she wins it, she’ll stand a better chance of getting into the Top 5.

  43. Joe Leydon says:

    I am not saying the comparison is ENTIRELY apt, but if Marlon Brando could get a Best Actor award for “The Godfather” (even though he has much less screen time than Al Pacino), why couldn’t Meryl Streep get at least a Best Actress nomination for “Prada”?

  44. T.H.Ung says:

    Because it’s not a great movie? Dug out my email from after seeing it, “never have I wished so hard for a line now and again from a non-speaking extra or a minor character to flesh out a story. An hour and 50 felt like 3. Meryl was divine though, Stanley useless, Anne easy on the eyes with no sign of real talent and Emily Blunt stole the show.”

  45. palmtree says:

    What clinches Meryl’s spot is that no one else could really have done that part that well. Whatever amount of screen time is just technicalities (see Ellen Burstyn). Anne Hathaway was competent but replaceable. Meryl was not. That’s also why I’d argue that Daniel Day Lewis deserved his nod for Gangs.

  46. James Leer says:

    There’s a lot more to Streep’s performance than that scene with no makeup. The clincher for me was her withering monologue about cerulean, which I fully expect to become an acting class staple over the next few years, so juicy is it written (and performed).

  47. T.H.Ung says:

    But comparing Meryl in Prada to Meryl in everything else she’s done, you can’t help but feel she could have phoned this one in. Seriously, I know the book was changed a lot, so maybe the role was developed for her. That reminds me to check if Kris T. has a page to screen on it. Sure Meryl’s still having fun with the clothes and the “that’s all,” but she’s got to feel a little bit embarrassed next to (Anne Thompson’s other picks) Helen Mirren, Penelope Cruz, Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts, Toni Collette, Annette Bening, Judi Dench.

  48. EDouglas says:

    I’m not disagreeing that Meryl deserves recognition (again)…just that she should be getting it in the supporting category…just like Jack in The Departed. BTW, Annette Bening gives a similarly great performance in “Running With Scissors” and it’s the same issue… she’s really a supporting part but she does take over the movie (and she has a “no make-up” moment as well)

  49. jeffmcm says:

    So ED, are you saying that Bening should also be kept in Supporting as well, for the same reasons?

  50. Cadavra says:

    An even older comparison: Bela Lugosi in DRACULA. He’s only onscreen about 15 minutes, but his presence is felt throughout the film. That said, I still believe Streep warrants Supporting, because bottom line, the movie is still about Hathaway’s character.
    On a side note: Streep already has two Oscars and 13 nominations. At this point, does she really even care that much anymore?

  51. James Leer says:

    I think she said that when she was nominated for “Adaptation,” she really, really wanted it and was upset when she lost.

  52. jeffmcm says:

    Hmmm, if Streep wants to win that badly, she’d be better off sticking with Supporting then, and not competing with Mirren or Winslet where she doesn’t have a chance. In 2002 she was upstaged by Catherine Zeta-Jones in a flashy musical and I suppose something like that could happen again too.

  53. EDouglas says:

    “So ED, are you saying that Bening should also be kept in Supporting as well, for the same reasons?”
    Yeah, but they probably won’t… on the other hand, Bening is the main female lead, probably in the credits, too. Heck…even Forest Whitaker’s Idi Amin is really a supporting role to James McAvoy in Last King, but what studio would try to sell a movie based on McAvoy?

  54. EDouglas says:

    jeff: Re: your last statement about Streep sticking to supporting if she wants to win…that’s pretty much what i was saying. She doesn’t stand a chance in the lead category.

  55. jeffmcm says:

    Yeah, I reread your original post. This is sort of one of those ‘What will the Oscar voters do/what _should_ the Oscar voters do’ situations. Streep only has a shot in Supporting due to the competition, the fact that the movie’s a comedy, and the fact that the movie’s kind of lightweight outside of being a comedy. But outside of the Oscar race I would still call it a very strong lead performance.

  56. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Doug, Meryl Streep is first in Prada‘s credits too I believe. She’s credited above Hathaway on the poster, I know that for sure.
    “Streep’s “great performance” was really that one scene where we get behind the facade… ”
    See now, THIS is what we should be focusing on. You don’t actually like the performance. If you did you’d see it as more than what you seem to. You may think this is Meryl’s finest comedy work of her career (I think it is, but I know others would disagree). And how many actors could honestly turn a Summer popcorn movie into legitimate fare? I think the performance is much much more than simply “phoning it in”. A lesser actress woulda been hootin’ and hollerin’ her way through the entire movie turning her into a loud shrill monster. Meryl knew what she was doing by playing Miranda the way she did.
    Is Meryl Streep being nominated alongside people like Helen Mirren so “embarassing”. Last time I checked, Queen Elizabeth II was a real person who was still alive. Not to take anything away from Mirren (The Queen isn’t out here til Boxing Day), but Streep only had words on a page to go by. If Mirren deserves the Oscar then so be it, but Streep is just as worthy
    It’s that mentality that has lead to the Oscars becoming Serious Biopic Central. It’s only good if they play a real person and/or have a drug addiction!!! (obviously that’s a generalisation, but surely you get my point)

  57. Cadavra says:

    Billing has nothing to do with the size of the role. How many people remember that Christopher Reeve was third-billed in SUPERMAN, behind Brando and Hackman?

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