Oscar Watch comes to you every Monday, sizing up the recent developments of the award season. Come with us today as we traipse "Into the Woods" and see if the academy picked up on the bread crumbs it left behind this weekend.
"Through the Woods"
Disney raised the curtain on its adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine musical Saturday with a screening at the Directors Guild of America Theater in New York, and reaction was predictably split. Broadway enthusiasts adored it. Others had problems with the third act, which, to be fair to director Rob Marshall (and that will probably be the only time I ever write those words), is an issue with the show too.
Following the screening, Marshall, screenwriter Lapine and cast members Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, James Corden, Christine Baranski, Chris Pine and Tracey Ullman answered questions. Oscar talk immediately centered on one particular cast member (guess who!), who, according to Corden, nearly died when she fell off a table during rehearsals. Yes, Streep's 19th Oscar nomination was a fait accompli from the moment she was cast as the Witch in this thing, though there will be no happily ever after if she ultimately prevails in the supporting actress category over "Boyhood's" Patricia Arquette.
Everyone knew Streep would kill as the Witch, but Corden, playing an everyman, the Baker, might have received the biggest boost from the weekend, both for his work on screen and his engaging presence at the Q&A. There's at least one slot, maybe two, not locked down for supporting actor, and if the academy embraces "Into the Woods," it wouldn't be surprising to see Corden nominated. At the very least, we know "The Late Late Show" will be in good hands when Craig Ferguson passes the baton.
Lead actress angst
Jennifer Aniston made the rounds this weekend too, for her indie film "Cake," and Shailene Woodley came to L.A. for a day as well, breaking bread at Craft in Century City and participating in a single Q&A event.
We've been in Woodley's corner since "The Fault in Our Stars" landed in June. In a year when many are wringing their hands over a perceived lack of options in the lead actress category, a final slate of, say, Woodley, Reese Witherspoon (fantastic in "Wild"), Julianne Moore ("Still Alice"), Rosamund Pike ("Gone Girl") and Felicity Jones ("The Theory of Everything") would look pretty great.
Put it another way: The last time Witherspoon was nominated for lead actress (for "Walk the Line"), she was joined by Judi Dench ("Mrs. Henderson Presents"), Felicity Huffman ("Transamerica"), Keira Knightley ("Pride and Prejudice") and Charlize Theron ("North County"). Witherspoon won. I'd wager this year's group of potential nominees will look a little better than that bunch a decade from now.
Sure, you can have your Streep singing Sondheim or Miles Teller making like Buddy Rich in "Whiplash." But if you want to witness musical genius at work, look no further than Steve Carell letting the hate hate hate hate haters know that they don't bother him in the least.
Oh ... and he's not bad in "Foxcatcher" either.