Saturday, September 12, 2009

Venice: Two Trophies for A Single Man

By now you've heard the news that Colin Firth received the papal blessing in Venice.


The only church I believe in is the church of cinema and Ang Lee is a holy man. Don't tell me otherwise, blasphemer!

If you have to receive a blessing from an auteur, a vote of confidence if you will, what better man than Ang Lee? He has exceptional taste. Colin Firth might be floating up towards heaven even as we speak since Ang Lee and his Venice International Film Festival jury named Colin Firth Best Actor. The honor came for his work as a grieving gay academic in Tom Ford's A Single Man (see: related posts).

I'd like to intone "The Oscar race has begun" in sotto voce right about now, but has it? A Single Man's distribution is still up in the air. Though the movie, based on the Christopher Isherwood novel, is having a great week (positive reception at both Venice and Toronto) only time will tell if the film will be eligible for any more trophies in 2009. For now, it has two.

The Golden Lion winner, Lebanon, which takes place in a tank

Ang's other holy blessings
Golden Lion (Best Film):
Lebanon, directed by Samuel Maoz and Maoz Shmulik [Israel]
Silver Lion (Best Director):
Women Without Men directed by Shirin Neshat [Iran]
Grand Jury Prize:
Soul Kitchen directed by fest trophy magnet Fatih Akin of Head On and The Edge of Heaven fame [Germany]

Actress: Russian thespian Kseniya Rappoport (pictured right) in The Double Hour [Italy]
Young Performer: Jasmine Trinca in The Big Dream [Italy]
Screenplay: Todd Solondz's Life During Wartime [USA]
Set Design: Sylvie Olive for Mr. Nobody [USA]

The sidebar juries handed out the following prizes
Lion of the Future (Debut Film):
Engkwentro by Pepe Diokno [The Philippines]
Queer Lion: A Single Man directed by Tom Ford [USA]
Documentary: 1428 directed by Du Haibin [China]
Special Mention: The Man’s Woman and Other Stories directed by Amit Dutta [India]
Controcompo Italiano: Cosmonauta by Susanna Nicchiarelli [Italy]

The only bum deal about the glorious Toronto International Film Festival that's in full swing as Venice shutters, is that they don't do juried awards. So this is your last big film award for awhile. Trophies, cups, scrolls, and golden statues are the way to go, you know. Oh sure, art is silly to quantify in that way but there's something generous and worthwhile about saying "you... you deserve this you beautiful piece of celluloid, you!" Ciao bella!

But back to "Darcy" himself for a second. I like Firth's chances in the Oscar race should the film find a distributor. Not only is that category awfully barren this year, but Firth is a respected enduring star who has never been nominated. When known previously neglected commodities do "best of career" work, big things can happen on Oscar night. Plus, he's a straight man playing gay as he reminded the world in his acceptance speech with a nod to his Italian wife.

I rarely seem to come home from Italy empty-handed – wine, balsamic vinegar, wife, two children, and now a nice piece of silverware.
Everyone knows how hard the Academy thinks that acting gay is for straight men. Imagine the unspeakable horror of locking lips with Matthew Goode! Poor, poor put upon Colin. He thought pretending to be in love with Bridget Jones was hard work.


Andrew K. said...

I'm lukewarm about Firth, but I don't mind him getting some recognition...if only because this might increase the chances of distribution and a chance at seeing Julianne on screen.

Although I don't hate RZ I can't help loving every sidenote you throw in about her.

Walter L. Hollmann said...

"Imagine the unspeakable horror of locking lips with Matthew Goode!"

haha, you made me chuckle. hell, i'm straight, and I don't think i'd have to be convinced to snog him. it's MATTHEW GOODE.

UncleVanya said...

Day 3:

Today i saw the Czech film “Nestyda (Shameless)”, directed by Jan Hrebejk (”Up and Down”) who’s film, “Divided We Fall” was nominated for Best Foreign Film in 2000. It follows a news weatherman (Petr Ctvrtnicek) after the dissolution of his marriage from his radio host wife, played charmingly by Simona Babcakova. Though nowhere near the dark humor of “Divided We Fall”, this film is still a tender, if not downright civil, movie about relationships and the effects the passage of time has one’s memories. The film opens with Ctvrtnicek dissatisfied with his wife whom he unfathomably decides after seven years of marriage that she has a very large and, therefore, repugnant nose. Of course, he is also having an affair with the couple’s au pair which he justifies having because of his wife’s looks. Now, too most, this detail would suggest that this man is very shallow and self-serving. But as the film progresses we see that he is just bored, looking for some excitment to satisfy his seven-year-itch. Predictably, the affair with the young nanny withers, and our weatherman bounces from one encounter to another, with disarming results. From a young girl he taught while a high school teacher to a woman 20 years his senior, we realize that our protagonist is not merely longing to recapture his youth. He is searching for something. But what? It doesn’t really matter to answer this question; the pleasure, here, is in the journey. At one point, a female bartender tells him that these interludes between relationships are equivalent to taking a long bus ride home from Greece after a couple hours of swimming. And his response: “yes, but I like swimming”.

Paulo Peralta said...

Ksenia Rappoport film La Doppia Ora is an Italian film, not French.

Guy Lodge said...

Actually, there was a cute digression in the press conference when Firth discussed the challenge of pretending NOT to be attracted to Julianne Moore ... given how amazing she looked, you could hardly blame him.

John D. said...

Ellen Burstyn is now a triple crown of acting winner. She won the Emmy last night for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Sara Almeida Silva said...

The Emmys weren't delivered yet. The ceremony is on September 20.

Paul Outlaw said...

Creative Arts Emmys were announced yesterday and Burstyn did indeed win: HBO leads Creative Arts Emmy winners

Paul Outlaw said...

Full list here: Creative Arts Emmys

Michael W. said...

The Emmys always remind me that there really should be an Oscar catogory for casting. I would much rather see that than an ensemble category as many people wants.

Jim T said...

I hope A Single Man becomes a hit (Of course I mean minor. I don't expect miracles)

I have to share my enthusiasm for the fact that I will watch An Education this Friday! Thank God for festivals. I doubt it will be released here (Greece) this year given the awards recognition it will probably recieve. Slumdog was released after the Oscars!

Juno101 said...


everyone must checkout this "Precious" review
its sh_t your pants worthy

adam k. said...

I don't think the best actor race is that barren. Already, Clooney, Damon, and Freeman look very strong (though I don't think Freeman is the lock people think he is... if the film turns out to be lightweight and not even about any of the meaty parts of Mandela's life, Freeman could be an afterthought... but on its face, it does seem baity as hell). So assuming those 3 are in, there also:

Mortensen (likely if the film goes over well)
Renner (I think very likely to do well here)
Depp (if nothing else catches, and they need filler)
and of course Day-Lewis (if Nine is a PHENOM and he wows even more than expected)

Still, Colin would be a top ten contender if the film is released. I'm just getting a very "Savage Grace"y vibe from it, though. I'd say it's:

1) Clooney (if the hype is to be believed)
2) Damon (he or Day-Lewis will win the globe)
3) Freeman
4) Renner
5) Mortensen
6) Day-Lewis
7) Depp
8) Firth

(sorry, Ben Whishaw is not happening)

Paul Outlaw said...

@ Juno101

The quote of the day:

In a brilliantly raw piece of acting, Sidibe is a revelation as Precious, and if there is any justice within the Academy, this young woman will win the Academy Award for Best Actress for what is one of the finest performances I’ve ever seen.


hmmm. i never trust those quotes that demand Oscars for people before we've even seen their competition.

some years have more than one gob-smackingly great performance.

Paul Outlaw said...

Nat, the young lady's gonna have to get nominated first, but if she does--ooh boy...

Larry McD said...

It's only been 25 years since Firth had to play gay and kiss another man (Another Country)... and his protestations of straighthood since then have occasionally gone over the offensive line, particularly after he went back to the gay well (without kisses) in Apartment Zero four years later.

He's certainly a competent actor, but if I were his manager, I'd discourage him from broadcast interviews... he comes across as a stereotypical asexual pompous Brit.

LilO said...

About Sidibe. It's best she doesn't win. Let's face it, they're aren't a lot of roles that fit her profile. And if she wins, she'll always be known as the girl who won and then got nowhere.

And worse of all, haters will say she got it because she played a version of herself. I don't want that for her.

adam k. said...

So what if she wins and gets nowhere? How is that worse than losing and getting nowhere? I get that people sometimes think that an early win can "curse" young actresses, but if she's not having a career regardless, then why not give her the win if she deserves it?

That said, I have my doubts that she will either...

A) win, or
B) deserve to.

I'm sure it'll be an affecting performance, but better than Streep, Mulligan, or Swinton? Good luck. I will be happy for her if she's nominated, but I think that's the end of the line. The Keisha Castle-Hughes/Catalina Sandino Moreno of this year.

Young unknowns (particularly atypical types) with literally zero prior film acting experience don't just come out of nowhere and win. Doesn't happen. You need to build a profile first. Voters need to feel like you've worked for it. Whether by years of struggle, deglamming, or whatever. A nom for her would be enough of a coup already.

Anonymous said...

well, I dont think she wants to be an actress.
I saw an interview about her and she said something like her friends are the ones that Found the role and thought it fit her discription perfectly, they persuaded her to audition and she got it. It'd be great for her to be nominated and maybe win. Even if she wins I dont think she'll try more movies, an acting career never occurred to her before and she probably doesn't want one. If she deserves it then hopefully she gets it regardless of being young and new.

alexander said...

Oh, because being married to a woman make one straight ?

You seem very tired these days.


alexander what would be "tired" would be to assume that everyone is gay, even if they're married. I got over that in college.

but yes i am tired. thank you for your concern. I have a horrible flu this weekend and you're supposed to sleep when you're sick but i can't sleep either. argh! Anyone know a quick cure for sore throats and coughs stuffy head fever soyoucanrestmedicine?

Paul Outlaw said...

Whatever Sidibe decides to do with her life post-Precious, I will be very excited if her performance in the film is as staggering as reported and she manages a nod, simply because I want some suspense and vitality in the race. And if Streep, Mulligan and Sidibe grab three of the slots, that will already be the case. Then imagine adding two of these names to the mix: Robin Wright Penn, Tilda Swinton, Hillary Swank, Julianne Moore, Marion Cotillard...

adam k. said...

How cool would a Streep/Mulligan/Sidibe/Ronan/Swinton lineup be?

Or you could swap out Ronan for Pfeiffer... still cool. Or swap out Swinton for Pfeiffer if you have to. Or even with Swank, it would be a cool lineup.

This year, due to the lack of usual bait, could prove really diverse and unexpected and fun. And I have a feeling the win will NOT be predetermined, and there'll be suspense right up until the end.

Is it kind of a foregone conclusion, though, that Streep will win the comedy globe (again)?

John D. said...

Is there room for another veteran actor besides Morgan Freeman? Robert Duvall is getting great buzz for Get Low, which also stars Sissy Spacek and Bill Murray.

Anonymous said...

I would be happy to see a time where we do not have to care what sexual orientation an actor is. Why is this even relevant? Movies are fantasy. Not reality. The blurring of the lines in modern society between reality and fantasy is why this seems so hard.

Anonymous said...

Follow up: there was a recent movie. I can not even remember its name. It was gay themed as well. I remember reading an article about it. I was really enjoying it until they brought up the personal life of the actor part. I did not get it. I did not think of the actor's orientation one way or the other. What I thought was- wow what a great character. I go to movies to escape reality. So I do not get the whole "let's figure out the actor's reality outside of the movie."

UncleVanya said...

Personally I am hoping that the performance by Tahar Rahim ("A Prophet", which I saw at the Elgin in Toront today) starts getting the notices it deserves

Day 4:

If James Joyce were to write a sequel to one of his most famous books, it could be titled “Portrait of a Juvenile Delinquent as a Young Man”, and director Jacques Audiard (”Read My Lips”, “The Beat That My Heart Skipped”) would be it’s cinematic creator. The unwavering clash between loss of innocence, institutionalized violence, and religious quaintness is just a drop in the bucket of themes unleashed in Audiard’s new film, “Un Prophete (A Prophet)”. Focusing on a newly incarcerated 19 year old (parentless and illiterate) of Arab decendant, in a maximum security, french prison, we meet Malik, a young man who has been in confinement, in some form, most of his life. Initially he is wary, frightened and indecisive. In one instance, when asked if he eats pork he answers no, and then says yes so fast that one gets the sense that he doesn’t even know himself. Religion is just a by-product of his Arabness: in reality, he is just trying to survive, and the longer he outlasts and educates himself in regards to the mine-field he is in, the more efficient a criminal he becomes, so much so that as time passes, others around him wonder if his instincts are not indeed prophetic. Tahar Rahim plays Malik El Djebena, the youth in question, with such a ferrety and sinuous persona that visions of Al Pacino and Dustin Hoffman in their earlier films come to mind. Exiting a year where the Best Actor pool seems to be rather empty, Rahim would be more than a worthy contestant for this honor. In fact, he would be a contender. In a labyrinthine plot involving Italian mobsters, Egyptian drug-dealers, and the french syndicate, our neophyte petty criminal is first coerced to participate in a horrific murder, then recruited to be the errand boy to a slippery fellow prisoner, Ceasr Luciani (Niels Arestrup in a remarkable, and full-bodied performance of increasing weariness and resignation). Eventually, due to good behaviour (he hides his malversations well), Djebena is allowed day passes outside of prison where he carrys out the increasingly dangerous orders of Luciani, who sees a budding accomplice in the making. In one scene, involving a contract killing, our anti-hero, after escaping death, exclaims to his complicitous comrade that the blood on his body is “not my blood!”, with epiphanous glee. Over time he seems to be untouchable, perhaps even guided by an invisible hand. In fact, Djebena’s evolution from novice to superior criminal craftsman would be questionable were it not for the screenplay by Audiard and Thomas Bidegain which is so impeccable and free of contrivance that one nevers feels the need to suspend belief. There are moments that are effortlessly breath-taking; visual metaphors, like the collison of a speeding vehicle with a deer (a sort of bloody baptism), or a dizzying murder spree within the confines of an amored car. At almost two and a half hours the film never transgresses. Each succeeding scene compliments the latter, leaving one riveted in it’s inventiveness and bullet-like pace. The direction, here, is so taut that a noose tightening metaphor is appropriate. Directorial excess never rears it’s head as Djebena sweves from one hermetic situation to another. Consequently, I found myself holding my breath so many times, I had to remind myself to exhale. The score by Alexandre Desplat (”The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) is restrained and precise, never superflous, adding a sentient quality not heard in his previous work. Moreover, Juliettle Welfling’s editing is top-notch. In fact, Audiard’s epic film is so well constructed, acted and shot, that the possibilty of movies as an exalted art-form is rejuvinated if not elevated to the world of classically great music. Should “Un Prophete” be overlooked at this years Academy Awards, the word scandalous would be an understatement, because, without a doubt, this film is easily one of the years best.

Paul Outlaw said...

Is it kind of a foregone conclusion, though, that Streep will win the comedy globe (again)?

Well, given the fact that she will be nominated for either Julie and Julia, It's Complicated, or both, she's gonna be hard to beat. Who's the competition? Someone from Nine? Amy Adams? The Zellweger?

Guy Lodge said...

"I would be happy to see a time where we do not have to care what sexual orientation an actor is."

That time is now. We don't HAVE to care. But a lot of people CHOOSE to.


no we don't have to care. But until there stops being double standards it's a little bit hard not to.

Iza Larize said...

Congrats to the Philippines' Engkwentro!!! :)

Regina said...

According to some articles in the Philippines, Cannes Best Director Brillante Mendoza's "Lola" will be pushed for the Philippine's Foreign Language entry at the Oscars. I hope does! (Go Anita Linda!)