Stephen Daldry has not only finished “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”–he’s screened it on Sunday evening for the Hollywood Foreign Press in New York. He finished the movie on Saturday night, he told me exclusively Sunday night at the swanky all out premiere for Steven Spielberg‘s “War Horse” at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center. “I’m done!” he cried as Daldry zoomed up to me at the after party. That’s where the likes of Tony Danza, Celeste Holm, Billy Connolly, Brian Cox, Eriq LaSalle and Michael Michele, and dozens of A-listers swarmed around stars Emily Watson, Jeremy Irvine, and the terrific young actors who comprise Spielberg’s stunning, sentimental, and sensational film.
“I just finished last night,” said Daldry when I asked him what the heck was going on. “Extremely Loud” is late late late. “Everyone else just finished early,” Daldry said with his typical chuckle. He’s missed deadlines for many award presentations, and is just making it for the Academy Awards, Critics Choice and Golden Globe awards. The movie stars Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock.
“We’re not going to win anyway,” he joked, which is a joke since the director of “The Reader,” “Billy Elliott,” and “The Hours” could well pull off a last minute ambush and find himself with lots of nominations. Daldry turned up at the “War Horse” party to support young David Kross, who appeared so vividly in Daldry’s “The Reader” with Kate Winslet. Kross has a key role in “War Horse” as a German soldier.
Meanwhile, Spielberg had to leave “War Horse” early and get back to Richmond, Virginia, where he’s shooting “Lincoln” with Daniel Day Lewis and Sally Field.
But the “War Horse” cast was overwhelmed and thrilled to stick around, and meet lots of New York actors like the amazing Lois Smith, who played doctor who explained what a ‘minority report’ was in the movie of the same name. Also meeting and greeting: Robert Wuhl, Anika Noni Rose, Mariska Hargitay, Vondie Curtis Hall and his teen age son (mom is Kasey Lemmons) and Kathie Lee Gifford who brought 18 year old daughter Cassidy. Guess what? Cassidy is a knockout, and has already been on the TV series “Blue Bloods” and an indie film. I’m afraid to tell you that she’s got “it’–it’s quite clear–that Cassidy Gifford is on the launch pad. I just wish she’d go to college first. What can I say about Kathie Lee? I’ve always liked her a lot. I can’t help it.
Anyway. “War Horse” has potential for well over a dozen Oscar nominations. Jeremy Irvine and Emily Watson will go into Supporting. Joey the horse should be in lead. He’s that good. Director, adapted screenplay, cinematography, editing, music, costumes, sets, etc. “War Horse” is a magnificent accomplishment. Is it schmaltzy? Sometimes it gets very drippy. John Williams’ memorable score is superb. Maybe it’s a little too much. But get out the hankies. Spielberg, overall, has made a modern masterpiece. The war scenes alone are going to be talked about by film buffs forever. Spielberg stages a war without any blood or gore, and yet it’s searing. The sequence in which Joey makes his run through “no man’s land” and winds up entangled in barbed wire is going to go into every time capsule for classic filmmaking.
One more thing about “War Horse” for now: why isn’t Tom Hiddleston a big star already? In “War Horse” he plays a young David Niven. Hollywood, let’s go.