Meryl Streep

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Pathe released the first photo today of Meryl Streep as the famously tone deaf opera singer, Florence Foster Jenkins.  Jenkins tells the tale of the New York Heiress who used her money to embark on a singing career, performing in concert venues in the 1920’s.

 

Florence Foster Jenkins is directed by Stephen Frears. Hugh Grant plays her partner St.Clair Bayfield. The film has started shooting in the U.K

 

 

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The feature documentary, “SHOUT GLADI GLADI,” co-directed by Adam Friedman and Iain Kennedy, focuses on women’s health in Africa with a particular emphasis on fistula, a common, debilitating condition that turns once healthy women into outcasts. Academy-Award winning actress Meryl Streep will lend her voice to narrate the film. The documentary is being made in collaboration with The Freedom From Fistula Foundation, an organization run by Scottish businesswoman, philanthropist, and activist, Ann Gloag. Friedman and Kennedy document Gloag’s experiences working with incredible women in Kenya, Malawi, and Sierra Leone to help them find hope and transcend their horrendous circumstances. The film also features rare appearances by Melinda Gates and Nobel Peace laureate Wole Soyinka. Friedman will produce the documentary through his company, Vertical Ascent, and Gloag will executive produce.

“SHOUT GLADI GLADI” documents the efforts of Gloag and her foundation as they work with some of the world’s most vulnerable women in poverty stricken villages in Africa. The foundation works to eradicate fistula by improving access to good maternity care, as well as training doctors and midwives, and providing free medical care at their facilities. In addition to providing health services the foundation is focused on empowering women economically and socially. The foundation has partnered with Opportunity Bank in Malawi to provide newly cured women a BBOXX, a small generator powered by a solar panel which allows the women to earn a fee for charging cell-phones (up to five at a time). This creates a business opportunity for the women who are often rejected by the men in their village after suffering from fistula, allowing them to become masters of their own destiny. “SHOUT GLADI GLADI” is a story about hope for a unique group of women and the extraordinary people who are helping them have a brighter future.

“Filming Shout was an extraordinary experience, my wife and I were stopped at Gunpoint in Malawi and were one of the last film crews shooting in Sierra Leone as the Ebola plague descended. But throughout the wonderful people of Africa and the amazing work that Ann’s groups were doing inspired us to keep on keeping on,” noted Adam Friedman. Streep added, “’This powerful film attests to the igniting power of one woman, Ann Gloag, to set in motion hundreds of helping hands, doctors , nurses, caregivers, family and friends, to resuscitate the health and status of victims of fistula, and to give them back their lives.”

FISTULA FACTS

· 1 woman every 2 seconds is seriously injured or disabled giving birth

· An estimated 2 million women in Africa live with obstetric fistula

· It is estimated that another 100,000 develop the condition every year

· More than 500,000 women die each year during pregnancy or childbirth, mostly in developing nations

· 80% of these deaths are completely avoidable

· Sierra Leone has just 71 doctors and 112 midwives for a population of six million

· In 2005, 8 million women around the world experienced life-threatening complications during pregnancy and childbirth

· The 5th Millennium Development Goal is to cut maternal deaths by three- quarters by 2015

ABOUT ADAM FRIEDMAN

Vertical Ascent Founder and President Adam Friedman brings over 22 years of entertainment industry experience to the company. An award-winning filmmaker and television producer, Friedman began his career directing a documentary entitled Wolves in Winter, which went on to receive two Emmy nominations. Friedman’s next project, Color Me Blue, about the NYPD and its many heroes, won him his first Emmy. Friedman moved on to shooting music videos, and his video for the Rolling Stones Emotional Rescue was part of the Whitney Museum Biennial celebration, and his video for the rap group Whodini, Big Mouth, is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. Adam has also directed feature films, and his debut, “Medium Straight”, was shown in Critics Week at the Cannes Film Festival, with Variety magazine citing

Friedman has also produced and directed a multitude of biographies for A&E that has included figures as diverse as Kevin Costner, Dolly Parton and LL Cool J. Adam’s bio on John Travolta tripled A&E’s viewership and went on to receive Emmy nominations for best non-fiction series and best director. Under his own shingle, he produced hundreds of hours of non-fiction programming for Discovery, The History Channel, HBO and Spike TV.

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Julie & Julia was the 2009 film starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. Directed by Nora Ephron, the film intertwined two stories, Julia Child, the famous culinary chef and how she came to be, Streep played Child in the film. Adams played Julie Powell, an office worker who decided to start a blog where she vowed to cook her way through Julia Child’s cookbook, Mastering the Art Of French Cooking. She wanted to cook all 524 recipes in a year.

Both actresses won rave reviews for their respective roles, however, an editor has decided to to chop all the Amy Adams scenes out of the film, leaving in just the Streep scenes. That’s right, Adam Goldman has reduced the film to an hour long, that’s how long Streep appears in the movie for. The film is reduced to a brand new cut, all about Julia Child cooking her way through France.

Enjoy the cut below.

What do you think of the new edit, yay or nay?

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In the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, director Rob Marshall confirms he has cut the new Stephen Sondheim song which was written for Meryl Streep’s Witch from the final cut of Into The Woods.

Last year, Streep revealed that Sondheim had written a new song for her character, “I have a new song that Sondheim wrote for me, so it’s all very, very. He gave me the manuscript of it and he wrote, ‘don’t f**k it up!'”

However, Marshall said the new song has ended up on the cutting room floor, saying, “We’ve been incredibly faithful to the original.” He promised people wouldn’t be disappointed and added, “I don’t think people will be remotely ready to hear her sing this material. The power from her is off the charts.”

The song would have been eligible for Best Original Song at the Oscars. It will however feature all the classic songs including “Children Will Listen,” “Giants in the Sky,” “On the Steps of the Palace,” “No One Is Alone” and “Agony,” to name a few.

Check out the latest still of Streep as The Witch.

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Do you think it matters that the song was cut or not?

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**Slight Spoiler Warning*** Women don’t get to be anti-heroes much, at least where Oscar wins are concerned, whether male or female, voters prefer good or admirable characters to dark ones.  Good girls usually suffer no pushback but bad girls? They don’t get off so easy. It can get a little sketchy nowadays when a female antihero presents herself. The notion that women ought to always be portrayed is a positive light severely limits both the opportunities for actresses but also for women in the full spectrum of the human experience. A similar problem afflicts minority actors when they get sick of being stuffed into stereotypes — like black maids or street thugs, Chinese laundry attendants, etc. Women are stuffed into stereotypes too and sadly many of these roles are often delivered in an effort to portray them in a good light.  Some of the best performances on screen have been actresses taking on dark or sometimes soulless characters. Some of those have won Oscars (Louise Fletcher in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) and some of them haven’t (Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction or Dangerous Liaisons or Reversal of Fortune).

By my count, since 1970, good characters or heroines have accounted for 35 of the 44 Best Actress winners. Only 4 could be counted as flat-out bad (Louise Fletcher in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) and 5 could be counted as “complicated,” like Helen Mirren in The Queen or Kate Winslet in The Reader — they are mostly good but they are allowed complexities.  Contrast that with Best Actor where I counted 9 “complicated” winners, 6 flat-out bad and 29 good, or heroes. There isn’t a dramatic disparity between the sexes — though men have a slight advantage removing themselves from the “good” category and still winning — but it isn’t really so big it makes much of a difference.

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This year, the likely Best Actress contenders range from flat-out bad to complicated, to good.  It’s still too early to tell how things might shake down in that regard — so it’s difficult to say which characteristic will dominate. In our poll, AwardsDaily readers have these five predicted:

Amy Adams, Big Eyes
Julianne Moore, Maps to the Stars
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Jessica Chastain, Eleanor Rigby

Close behind are a few others who may have a shot:
Hilary Swank, The Homesman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
Michelle Williams – Suite Française
Jessica Chastain – Miss Julie
Nicole Kidman – Queen of the Desert

Amy Adams, as I recall from the footage in Cannes, plays a “difficult” character. But in subsequent readings of early screenings of the film it doesn’t sound that way. So right now I’m just not sure where she fits. course, it’s just too soon to know. These five can be considered this way:

The Good
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Jessica Chastain, Eleanor Rigby
Amy Adams, Big Eyes

The Bad:
Julianne Moore, Maps to the Stars
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

Both Julianne Moore in Maps to the Stars, and very likely Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl will represent this year’s anti-heroines. Both roles dwell in the 2014 zone of Kim Kardashian instagram devotion, the cancer of tabloid beatdowns of women on a daily basis, selfies, the incurable disease of self-improvement all pointing to what we women are afflicted with every day of our lives: the pressure to be all things: pretty, young, popular, thin, desired.  While we wait to see what writer Gillian Flynn, director David Fincher and actress Rosamund Pike do with the literary sylph “Amazing Amy” there is much we can glean from the character as written in Flynn’s book.

To my mind Amazing Amy from the book is the Frankenstein’s monster that the male gaze and the culture of overly-competitive women have created — and deserve. I dread the many articles that completely miss the point of the character Flynn wrote, a woman whose point of view must be taken into consideration when examining her character. The reason the book is so successful with women is that WE KNOW. We have grown up stuffing ourselves into the forms people want to see — what men want to see, what women want to see. We’ve been the object of bitchy middle-school girls snickering at our outdated jeans, we’ve been in on gossip clusters of girls talking about sluts. We’ve been watched by men who either lust after or reject our physical appearance. We’ve grown up shaping ourselves this way and Amazing Amy has MASTERED this shape-shifting. She has taken control of these requirements and delivered the “perfect” answer.

It is my hope that people, especially women, will get this and not fly off into the fascist notion that “all female characters have to be portrayed in a positive light.” If you think that’s true then talk to me about the tabloids. Cottage cheese thighs on women at the beach! So and so is cheating on so and so. Bad plastic surgery! Stars without makeup. Do we really think men are driving this disgusting industry? Sorry, ladies. I wish we could blame men for that one.

These fears and insecurities and mean-girl impulses weave cleverly throughout Flynn’s novel, all the while giving us a filter — what each character sees and how they interpret what they see.  It’s a magnificent novel written by a brilliant writer. The most famous passage in Gone Girl is the concept of the “cool girl,” a thing that will live on forever which is a description only we women understand.

“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.

Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men – friends, coworkers, strangers – giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them. I’d want to grab the poor guy by his lapels or messenger bag and say: The bitch doesn’t really love chili dogs that much – no one loves chili dogs that much! And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be. Oh, and if you’re not a Cool Girl, I beg you not to believe that your man doesn’t want the Cool Girl. It may be a slightly different version – maybe he’s a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics. There are variations to the window dressing, but believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain. (How do you know you’re not Cool Girl? Because he says things like: “I like strong women.” If he says that to you, he will at some point fuck someone else. Because “I like strong women” is code for “I hate strong women.”)”

When I first read this I was stunned that anyone could dig down that deep and be that observant to finally acknowledge in print what many of us girls have long known about fitting into very contradictory requirements of men.  They want you to eat but they don’t want you to be fat. They want you to be funny but not too smart. We all get it.  Another observer of this phenom is the funny and insightful Heather Harvilesky at The Awl. Check out this post.

Bruce Wagner does not pull punches where Julianne Moore’s character is concerned in Maps to the Stars — again, she is the sum total of our youth-obsessed culture  and the competition for Most Famous or Relevant person. But Wagner spreads the ugliness around to inevitably point the finger back where it belongs: squarely at us, the consumers.

In both cases, there will be some major pushback. Men could very well recoil in horror, while women might be inclined to take the “it’s misogynist” approach.  Either way, I suspect 2014 is going to get ugly.  So that brings us to the Oscar race.  After watching Maps to the Stars in Cannes, Pete Hammond said that it was a shame Julianne Moore was so unlikable in Maps to the Stars — she would win the Oscar otherwise.

Other potentially difficult female characters who dwell on the darker side would include Meryl Streep as the Witch in Into the Woods, Marion Cotillard as Lady MacBeth — if it’s released this year — and Anne Dorval in Mommy.  On the rest of the list, the women are admirable characters.

When I look back on Hollywood history, especially when actresses dominated, there was room for a full spectrum of types. Who can forget Anne Baxter and Bette Davis in All About Eve, for instance.   Would All About Eve get made today? Probably not. With so few films driven by female characters now is not the time to limit women to only those reflected in a good light. Well, at least not until tabloids disappear from supermarket shelves and gossip sites fade away.

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“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
― Barack Obama

There are many ways to interpret the upcoming choice for Best Picture the Academy will be making. On the one hand, the future could be defined as the sound of many doors unlocking and opening in unison as they realize it’s finally time to reward the first black director in 86 years of Oscar history, along with the film for Best Picture. That redefines our future as much as it provides a catharsis for these long years of the Academy, and Hollywood, perpetuating the notion that only white actors belong in films or on the covers of magazines. The Academy itself has come a long way since 1939.

At the same time, thematically, 12 Years a Slave reaches a long arm through the dark tunnel of our murky past. Too many still falsely believe that once the slaves were freed it was up to them to make their lives better. But decades-long Jim Crow laws ensured that would not happen. Worse, it would put in place segregation that was only challenged, violently, in the 1960s. This part of the story was told so beautifully in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, and the final chapter told in Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station. You can’t just tell one part of the story without looking at the other parts, all three directed by black filmmakers, an unprecedented leap into the future. Unfortunately, the Academy shut out both of those films — the media clucked about like chickens in a henhouse that the Great Harvey Weinstein had “failed” and that Oprah had somehow “failed” because they weren’t able to make nominations for The Butler happen. You could hear the snickering — the delicious schadenfreude of both moguls. Oprah was just too powerful. She was too black, too female and too goddamned powerful. They took from her the one thing they could: a potential Oscar win.

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All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say, ‘I’m a human being, God damn it! My life has value!’ So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, ‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’ – Network

Women are people too, or so I’ve heard.  We are more than just product, more than just boner fodder, more than just support networks to promote the smarter, stronger males.  You would never know that, of course, by the way Hollywood hums along as though nothing is wrong – everybody’s still getting rich so what’s the problem? The problem is that women have become decoration, safety nets, where sexual confidence is confused with strength in characters. Strong women means sexually confident women.  But these women, when you really dissect who and what they are, exist merely to inspire, seduce, make-better their male counterparts, for whom a whole spectrum of the human experience is allowed.  We can’t keep our faces from aging (and when we do we become even more frightening).  We can’t buy our youth back (we can try – to the tune of billions of dollars per year). We can’t stop the full spectrum of the male gaze from preferring the fresher, younger among us.  The dick wants what it wants.

And so it is with this that Kristin Scott Thomas finally got the message and decided to stop badgering the industry and the public – she just decided to hang it up, like so many do, so many who just say nothing but drift around at parties looking sort of familiar, almost famous but yet too old.  There are the exceptions – Sandra Bullock in Gravity.  What a brave choice by Cuaron to defy the studios and have Bullock  play a scientist fighting her way back to earth. Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep, Maggie Smith – the mostly British invasion (save Streep) are given more opportunities to age. In the UK they extend sexuality to the old among us. But in the US, if you want to work on Hollywood films, forget it.  This article posted on Women and Hollywood:

“I just suddenly thought, I cannot cope with another film,” she told The Guardian. “I realised I’ve done the things I know how to do so many times in different languages, and I just suddenly thought, I can’t do it any more. I’m bored by it. So I’m stopping.”

Unsurprisingly, Scott Thomas is frustrated by the narrow spectrum of roles she is offered as an “aging actress.” She doesn’t want to play the “sad middle-aged woman” anymore: “[I’m] asked to do the same things over and over, because people know you can do that, so they want you to do that. But I just don’t want to pretend to be unhappy anymore — and it is mostly unhappy.”

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Vulture has done a rundown for things to say at parties to help fake your way through Oscar season. We already know that the early season has effectively taken the public out of the loop. After all, can the public really be trusted anymore? Just look at what God hath wrought at the multiplex this weekend. Sure, Gravity and Frozen are doing gangbuster business but …

Either way, Vulture has your cheat sheet ready to go.  I think he lines of dialogue are very funny but I thought we could play along, know-it-alls that we are here at AwardsDaily. I’ll start and I’m looking for you chiming in.

Here is what to say at parties if you haven’t seen any of the nominees but don’t want to sound dumb (seriously, though, you should see them all – the Academy has picked nine good ones. Time to stop fucking around with Snapchat, and get thee to an arthouse – or do what all millennials do now, download – just kidding, don’t. I’m serious. I didn’t say that).

Best Picture
Sound smart: “It’s probably going to be a split year, something that hasn’t happened since they expanded the Best Picture race.”
“If 12 Years a Slave wins, it will be the fourth film to win in Oscar history with 9 nominations, following The Hurt Locker, An American in Paris and A Man for All Seasons.”
“I’m predicting a clean sweep for 12 Years a Slave. They did it with Return of the King and by God, they can do it with 12 Years.”
Dumb: Dude, they’re going to give it to August: Osage County

Best Director
Smart: “Everyone is predicting Alfonso Cuaron, and he’ll very likely win. He would be the first Mexican filmmaker to do so.  But watch out for Steve McQueen to make even bigger history becoming the first black director to win – if so, expect a standing ovation, maybe tears.  A long time coming, that.”
Dumb: “Steven Spielberg is going to win. He always wins. He has like ten Oscars.”

Best Actress
Smart: “Cate Blanchett is unbeatable at this point but watch out for Amy Adams. With four nominations for Hustle, someone is going to win – which of the four will it be?”
Dumb: They always give it to Meryl Streep. She’s won, like, ten Oscars.

Best Actor
Smart: “The momentum is with Matthew McConaughey but watch out for veteran Bruce Dern, who’s yet to win an Oscar and Chiwetel Ejiofor who carries the Best Picture frontrunner, 12 Years a Slave, and if it sweeps it could take Ejiofor with it, or even Leo.”
Dumb: Christian Bale gained a bunch of weight. He’s going to win.

 

Best Supporting Actress
Smart: “If Lupita Nyong’o wins that could signal an early sweep for 12 Years.”
Dumb: “They always give it to Jennifer Lawrence. She’s won like five Oscars already.”

Documentary Feature
Smart: “Nothing can beat The Act of Killing.”
Dumb: “Blackfish is going to win this one.”

The money shot
Smart: “The shorts, documentary and foreign are so hard to predict because voters can only vote if they’ve seen all of the nominees.”
Dumb: “Those shorts – you know people just pick whatever sounds serious.”
 “I can’t read subtitles.” 

Your turn!

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The Academy just released this photo of their having sent out to Meryl Streep recognition for her nomination.

American Hustle burns up the box office with $115 million, 12 Years a Slave re-released and has now made $40 million. Wolf of Wall Street has made $89 million. None of them can catch Gravity, sitting pretty with $258 million.[Boxoffice.com]

Cate Blanchett wonders why women are pawed with the camera and men are not.

The producers of Wolf of Wall Street have been determined by the Academy:

 The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has determined the individual nominees for “The Wolf of Wall Street” in the Best Picture category for the Oscars®.  They are producers Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joey McFarland and Emma Tillinger Koskoff.

 

“I am deeply humbled by this honor and even happier to share today with Marty, Jonah, Terry as well as this entire cast and crew. “The Wolf of Wall Street” has been a passion project of mine, and I found the role to be one of the most challenging and rewarding of my career. Congratulations to all of my fellow nominees and thank you to the Academy for this extraordinary recognition.”
— Leonardo DiCaprio

“I am absolutely blown away by this incredible nomination. I never in my life thought I would have the opportunity to even write these words. Thank you so much to all my fellow AMPAS acting branch members for this honor. Today you not only honor me but also all those around the world living with AIDS and all those we have lost to this disease. Thank you for recognizing them and recognizing their struggle through DALLAS BUYERS CLUB. This was a fascinating story told by a group of incredibly passionate and committed filmmakers who wanted to create something special and shine a light on a unique and important story. I’m proud to be a part of this celebration and so very grateful to you all. A huge congratulations to Matthew McConaughey, Robbie Brenner, Rachel Winter, Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack, Jean-Marc Vallée, Martin Pensa, Adruitha Lee, and Robin Mathews.”
-Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

“Despite the fact of what I do for a living, I am having difficulty finding the words to express how honored I am to be nominated. Martin Scorsese is the reason I wanted to become a screenwriter in the first place; having my name is included with his on this list is more than I could ever have hoped for. I’m equally thrilled for Leo, Jonah, and our entire cast and crew who’ve been honored with a best picture nomination for their incredible work.”
– Terence Winter, screenwriter, The Wolf of Wall Street

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By Marshall Flores

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Behind the veneer of glitz and progressive utopia of Hollywood, there are a few hard, sobering truths. One of these is that inevitably, every actress encounters the stereotype Goldie Hawn once famously described in The First Wives Club: “There are only three ages for women in Hollywood – babe, District Attorney, and Driving Miss Daisy.”

The primary reason for this is the realities of the film business – studios are primarily in the business of targeting specific audiences with their films. And although females now comprise the majority of the film-going population, males (especially younger males) still account for the bulk (55%) of theatrical attendance. Speaking as a relatively enlightened but beleaguered member of that subset of humanity, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that men like pretty young things. As such, the casting of female roles is generally centered on maximizing the relatability/fantasy factor with men. Or, as the late actress/writer Adrienne Shelly once bluntly recounted during a meeting with an agent: “What is important is that they think you are fuckable.”

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The post-game chatter about Meryl Streep’s intro for Emma Thompson at the National Board of Review completely missed the point of what Streep was saying. Moreover, the beauty in Streep’s speech was shunted to the side as the churning and hysteria found its way from comments section to blog to comments section. “Streep has insulted Walt Disney! Streep has hurt Emma Thompson’s Oscar chances! Streep has insulted everybody! Streep just blew it for her own Oscar nomination.” And so yeah, that happened.

The funny part of it is Streep did exactly the opposite. She didn’t “insult” Walt Disney. She did two things with her speech. The first, she spoke THE TRUTH. OH MY GOD, not the TRUTH! The second, she tried to spin the filthy way Emma Thompson has been treated by the press in light of the so-called Saving Mr. Banks scandal, that is, the insinuation that Thompson had something to do with the slick makeover of P.L. Travers.

What Streep did — now listen closely, Oscarwatchers because it looks to me like y’all missed the point — was take some of that heat off of Thompson and put it on Disney, where it belonged. Do I think Saving Mr. Banks is a good film? Yes. Do I think it deserves to be ripped apart by people who don’t have a presidential election to tweet about? Nope. Should any of that “controversy” have impacted, in any way whatsoever, Emma Thompson’s chances at winning an Oscar? Do I even have to answer that question?

Here is Streep’s speech in its entirety. I really hope that those making the story about how Streep acted out and hurt Thompson’s or her own Oscar chances will read this. (Courtesy of Vulture):

[Streep walks on stage wearing one of the “Prize Winner” hats from Nebraska, which had been scattered on the tables as promo items] What? Oh? Oh. Okay. [Takes off hat] I’m not the prize winner. It’s so weird! This is a very late night, and we have Spike Jonze — twice — coming up, so I want to say to you, I have a short, sweet, kind of funny version of this tribute to Emma Thompson, and I have the long, bitter, more truthful version, so I would like a vote — and I’m serious! I’m happy to do just the short one. I’d love to do the long one. [Lots of applause, one audience member hollers, “Go for it!”] Anybody want to leave? Go now. I guess that’s the long one.

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Pic is slated for release December, 2014 and also stars Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, and Johnny Depp. Hat tip, EW.

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Gold Derby is reporting that Meryl Streep has agreed to go supporting for August: Osage County. Of course, we know that only suggestions can be made and if that the Academy decides to put her in lead they can. Presumably this is to clear up the field for Julia Roberts to go lead, also for August: Osage County:

Two years after winning Best Actress for “The Iron Lady,” Streep has agreed to drop down to the supporting race for her role as Violet, the pill-popping, booze-swilling momma in “August: Osage County,” a Weinstein Company source tells Gold Derby. That means Streep will compete against Oprah as the hooch-guzzling wife of the title star of “The Butler,” which is also a Weinstein flick. Hmmm … what is Harvey thinking?

But I have a sneaking suspicion, and I could be dead wrong here, that Oprah will not go supporting, but will go lead, opposite the film’s other lead, Forest Whitaker in Lee Daniels’ The Butler. Should Oprah win she would only be the second black woman in 86 years of Oscar history to do so. That would be fitting both the role she plays on screen, and her position in the world.

Both films are being handled by the Weinstein Co. Don’t expect to see Meryl Streep win against Oprah in supporting, however. Let’s say Streep gives the best performance of her career (topping Sophie’s Choice) well then, sure. If you are going to pick between Streep and Oprah you ain’t picking Streep, just saying.

As for lead actress, Julia Roberts will have to stare down Cate Blanchett, who has only won in supporting and is way overdue.

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The race for Best Actress has not yet gotten started but looking over the year’s slate, finding five nominees should be easier than it’s been in a while. It already looks like a competitive season, with most of the big performances yet to be seen.  Already, Rooney Mara in Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Julie Delpy in Before Midnight and Berenice Bejo in The Past have made an impression, but the year ahead will also bring us leading roles by Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Emma Thompson, Nicole Kidman, Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett, to name a few.

The race for Supporting Actress also looks strong so far, with performances by Octavia Spencer in Fruitvale Station, June Squibb in Nebraska, Kristin Scott-Thomas in Only God Forgives, and Shailene Woodley in The Spectacular Now already having been seen, and Catherine Keener in Captain Phillips, Julianne Moore in Carrie, Amy Adams or Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle,  Carrie Mulligan in Inside Llewyn Davis, Oprah Winfrey in The Butler, Naomie Harris in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (again, might be campaigned as lead) still to come.

All in all, that makes 2013 a better than decent year for actresses, but particularly for those older than 40.  Is there a winner yet or even a frontrunner? Most would probably say Meryl Streep for August: Osage County, and indeed, Streep is the best there is. With two lead Actress Oscars and one Supporting, Streep could very well win her third lead Oscar as she approaches Katharine Hepburn territory.  But Cate Blanchett has never won lead, and neither has Annette Bening, and either of them could lean toward achieving that honor this year, theoretically. All of the other major names that might be in the race have already won at least one Oscar — Roberts, Kidman, etc.

Usually the two most exciting Oscar categories are Best Picture or Best Actress. There isn’t usually enough oxygen in the room for both to burn with equal passion. This year, Best Actress might be where all the heat is. But let’s go through the contenders that rise to the top so far, bearing in mind that other names and other performance could break through.

The Powerhouses

Meryl Streep, August: Osage County, who should bring the roof down in August: Osage County, might be looking at her 18th Oscar nomination and potential 4th win. Streep, who is probably the best actor who ever worked in Hollywood, male or female, doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.   Her win for the Iron Lady was recent, and who knows how the critics will respond to Osage County (not to mention theater purists).  Those factors could be potential obstacles. But first and foremost, Streep always fills up the screen and never turns in a lazy or uninteresting performance.

Julia Roberts, August: Osage County, who might be campaigned in supporting to give more room for Streep. But the trailer indicates that Roberts is the lead, and those who’ve seen the play all say Roberts and Streep are both co-leads.  So it will just depend on how the film’s received, how well Roberts stands up to Ms. Streep, and how well the film is liked overall.  Is Roberts getting better as she gets older? She seems to be more comfortable in her own skin and this young Southern woman is close to home for her (though Roberts is from Georgia).

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Twitter was a-flutter with reactions from a test screening of the Meryl Streep/Julia Roberts film August: Osage County.  I never trust test screenings where Oscar is concerned because they are almost always wrong. Moreover, they can sometimes set expectations too high for a film to then meet those expectations.  I hate it when that happens.  But you can’t put the genie back in the bottle once it’s out and so August: Osage County is not quite getting the Les Mis treatment yet but it might be headed in that direction. Remember: you need critics to see a movie to know if it’s going to be a Best Picture contender at the very least. Over the years test screening reactions have almost always turned out to be misleading.

Here’s what we know before we ever even go read those: Streep brings it. She brings it in bad movies (The Iron Lady) and brings it in great movies (Adaptation) — so there isn’t likely going to be anything disappointing about Streep in this film.  Therefore, it isn’t that surprising that the early word from the screening is a sploogegasm on the order of MERYL STREEP WILL WIN HER FOURTH OSCAR. And she very well might.  Since Hollywood, and the industry, really really really doesn’t like movies with strong female leads in them, and that there are barely enough of them to go around at all, it seems plausible that Streep’s tour de force could blow out any potential competition.

But enough of my empty, pointless speculation — on to the tweets.  A reader named Daniel sent this in (I hope he doesn’t mind if I post it):

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You can read some twitter reactions over at the Awards Circuit.  A reaction review after the cut.    Continue reading…

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Meryl Streep 6In honor of International Women’s Day I would like to pay tribute to the one of the best ever.  It is nearly impossible, by now, to say anything more about Meryl Streep that hasn’t been said. Considering she’s probably the best actress who ever worked in Hollywood it’s a wonder she’s only won three Oscars.
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Two pieces of important information have come to light recently that may impact the Best Actress race: Anne Hathaway will be campaigned for lead as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises and Jessica Chastain will also go lead for Zero Dark Thirty. Whether either of them will break through in a crowded race is a different story. Much will likely depend on the nominations at the Globes, then the SAGs and the Critics Choice Awards. By then, a consensus will have emerged. Those early awards are great for pruning the crowd. Once the nominees are named, voters get to sit on judgement about whether those are deserving nominations or not, whether there are more deserving names that got left off the list, and how each nominations or win would make them feel.

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Swiped from Indiewire’s Melissa Silverstein, who swiped it from Vulture. She also urges us all to go out and support Hope Springs this weekend.

There is a school of thought where Oscar is concerned that goes like this:

You can win if you can give them rock hard erections.

This is why a potential Oscar winner will often show up during voting nearly naked and turning on the heat. Ms. Williams is always appearing with her short hair cut, looking demure. She, like Kate Winslet the year she won, hadn’t ever really turned on the heat with her sexuality. Until now.

JustJared has the GQ picks of Williams firing it up. Makes you wonder if Ms. Williams might pull of an upset after all. This is a hand Streep won’t play, but Davis (built for sexy) could play if she wanted to.

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