a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for October, 2010

I FINALLY meet NOOMI!*Swoon* Give that girl an Oscar Nomination!

Well, dear readers, dear cineastes and dear Stieg-0-philes, I FINALLY had my big interview with the legendary Swedish actress Noomi Rapace, who has the third and final film of the late Stieg Larson’s  ”Millennium Trilogy”, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” which I liked A LOT, needless to say,opening this week. And she was here in New York to talk about it and to kick off her campaign for an Oscar for Best Actress. She’s Foreign. She’s new. But then so was Marion Cotillard. And look what happened to her! She talked to me and against all odds, she won! And that video is still up and getting over 200,000 hits on YouTube! 

So a Golden Globe nomination from the Hollywood FOREIGN press, I do think she’s already got in the bag, and this year the category of Best Actress is JAMMED to the gills. And the Golden Globes have a bit more lee-way having ten slots. Five for Best Actress, Drama and Five, for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical.

 Whereas the Oscars of course have only five Best Actress slots. She has a lot of competition this year, whereas Marion didn’t, but if ID-PR and UTA get her out there and talking, so charmingly, so wistfully, as she did with me today. Then VOILA! Noomi might get in!

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know how much I’ve been posting about these books and movies and Noomi. I mean, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been obsessed!

And Nooooomi, which is actually pronounced like that, Like “Nuumi” a long “U” sound and her last name is pronounced like “Replace” but it’s Rapace. I knew I was never going to get the correct pronunciation until I met her today, and what a moment that was!

She floated into the swanky (always) New York City hotel room where we were to film the interview for my Cable Television Show and my YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow with such grace and glamour and delicacy, every inch a great European film star.

 And how she managed to float on high heels as tall as the Empire State building, I do not know.

She is very beautiful in person. And indeed her beauty and charm were her major obstacles in over-coming the film director’s reservations in casting her in the first place as Lisbeth Salander, the most famous female character ever to emerge from a work of fiction, a novel (or series of novels) since Scarlett O’Hara.

I am beginning to think that the three novels are really one BIG novel an epic, in Iceland they’d call it a Saga, like “Gone With the Wind”. It’s a Swedish “War and Peace.”

I’ve read the first novel in a serious (ra)pace this weekend, then saw the first film last night, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” Phew! 

I haven’t read #2, “The Girl Who Played With Fire,” but  I saw the third film “The Girl Who Kicked Over the Hornet’s Nest” first a couple of weeks back, as I told you in this blog. And I couldn’t believe the impact it had on me! I felt like I’d had my head blown off ,and I knew I was in the presence of a great screen actress giving a legendary, incomparable performance.

And I’ve been trying to catch up ever since. It’s a VERY complicated story and you really do need to read all three books. (Which I still haven’t) to get the full effect.

Disguised as a crime novel, it really is the late Stieg Larson’s social chronicle of life in Sweden today. It’s an indictment, really. And it isn’t pretty.

Though in the movies the city of Stockholm and the surrounding countryside and many islands all look sumptuous. Stockholm has never looked more beautiful. And at times, it’s so romantically photographed in these films you wonder why its’ beauty hasn’t been used more often as a great, cinematic location.

So last night, also in preparation of this interview, which I was strangely, atypically very nervous about, I watched every single solitary interview Noomi Rapace has done so far in English on YouTube, and there aren’t that many. So far. Just wait….

And of course, everybody asks the same questions of her, and I wasn’t going to do that.

I was determined to ask her things that nobody ever interviewed her about. I wanted to bring out another side of her.

And I knew how to do that. To talk about ICELAND! Where she spent part of her childhood and where she started her film career in Hrafn Gunlagsson’s “In the Shadow of the Raven” as a little child.

Hrafn which is pronounced “Rafe” like Fiennes, is the Icelandic word for Raven, and Gunlaugsson has the reputation of being the most difficult director in Iceland. I know because I was fortunate to have traveled to Iceland twice. Once in December of 1999 for a series of “Christmas in Iceland” shows I did, and once again the following summer of 2000 when the sun is up all day long, for a series of shows(nine episodes!) on film and theatre in Iceland.

So when Noomi realized I just wanted to talk about how beautiful she was, and different from Lisbeth Salander she is, and how talented she was, and how wonderful a place Iceland is to have spent (at least part of) her childhood in, she just melted.

She loves shoes, especially expensive designer shoes, and she was wearing black(her favorite color) sky-high stilletto heels, and I got her to put her feet with the shoes on them on to the low coffee table in front of us and I held her ankle. Turning it for the camera to see in its full effect.

I don’t think I’ve ever held a woman’s ankle before. I’m gay. When would that situation arise? Anyway, she just loved that I got her to show off her VERY shapely Scandinavian cinema goddess legs. She was wearing a skin-tight, black mini- sweater-dress,and her hair is brown, a dark brown, but not black. And when we sat down on these very LOW cushioned chairs in the hotel suite, her dress went up so high, I could barely see it anymore!

This video is going to get A LOT of hits on YouTube!

And she was so delighted to not have the SAME questions asked that everybody else has asked her over and over and over again about Lisbeth Salander.

The magic word was ICELAND!

And I got her to speak Icelandic! I got her to say “I Love You” in Icelandic, and I repeated it to her.

It was a rapturous moment…

I can’t wait to see the video! And you can’t miss it either. But it won’t be up on YouTube for at least a week or so… But when it is it’ll be here www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

I brought out her sweet side. SOOOOO different from Lisbeth Salander. Which I feel is one of the great, legendary screen performances by an actress.

I really hope,and WANT Noomi to get an Oscar nomination for Best Actress this year, and so does her publicist, of course.

Those three performances in three films, put together and filmed right after each other is an overwhelming achievement. One of the greatest acting feats ever by a woman, I feel, and so do many critics.

I was so excited and thrilled to meet her, I hope I told Noomi all this. But not as succinctly as I’m expressing it now.

What a lovely lady!

And I just HATE David Fincher more and more for not using her in the American adaptation that he is filming now with Rooney Mara.

Noomi was devastated by this.

In one interview, in English on YouTube,she blurted out “They didn’t want me!” And I just wanted to cry.

This tiny, brave, beautiful, young woman put every ounce of her heart and soul and intelligence and TALENT into these three UNFORGETTABLE performances.

And then to be ignored by the Americans!?!…

David Fincher…you made one film already this year that I hated, as you all know, “The Social Network,” and YOUR version of these fantastic books had better be BETTER than the beautiful Swedish versions!!!

I HATED “Benjamin Button,” “The Fight Club” and “The Social Network” and I did like “Zodiac” and “Se7en” which are both about serial killers, a crime genre at which he really does excel. And of course, the Stieg Larson trilogy IS, partially about a serial killer, at least the first book.

But poor Noomi! She’s doing all right though, and seemed to be enjoying the hell out of her New York press day!

And all I can say is ” I LOVE YOU, NOOMI!” I’d say it again in Icelandic, if I could remember it, and GIVE THAT GIRL AN OSCAR NOMINATION!?!?!?

Wonderful BIG GAY movie coming your way!

Yesterday afternoon, I saw a wonderful new BIG GAY movie that I’ve been told I can’t review until near it’s opening but just let me say I LOVED it!

It’s “I Love You Phillip Morris” starring Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor as the hottest gay lovers to ever hit the screen. And both should be included in the Oscar Buzz Discussion. More when I’m officially allowed to write about this wonderful, wild, wacky, lovely movie!

And then I go out to Starbucks…

And then I step outside briefly for a breathe of fresh air, and to get away from all the serial killings and uber-crimes that Salander and Blomkvist keep solving and I sit down next to a young lady with long, dark hair, in her ’20s and SHE’S READING “The Girl who Played with Fire”! I just HAD to talk to her.

She seemed astonished that I was just finishing book one, “The Girl With the Snake Tattoo” and really didn’t believe me when I said I was going to be interviewing Noomi Rapace on Wednesday.

I think she thought I was trying to pick her up. Maybe I don’t come across as gay as I used to…?

And I asked her how did she think Noomi was pronounced?

And she thought that the umlaut over the first “O” made it sound as the word “Oh”, a long O. So it’s NOH-uumee? Well I guess I’ll find out on Wed.

And Rapace is Spanish. And it’s the name of her husband, so it would be pronounced Rah-Pah-CHE with the last syllable getting the accent.

Her father is of Gypsy descent, but she grew up in Iceland! We’re going to have a lot to talk about!

And I asked this young woman, obviously a fan. “THe Girl Who Played with Fire” was a well-worn paperback that she was reading and carrying everywhere with her, clearly, which of the other books she’d read and had she seen the other two already released movies?

She’d seen the first movie AND before it, read the first book “Dragon Tattoo.”

How did they compare?

She liked the book better because the movie made changes to the story, she said. 

What changes?

‘Well, in the movie, SHE does everything. And in the book they do it together.”

Interesting observation.

And his emails! One wonders why they went to all this trouble? Money, of course, Lisbeth would say, cynically…

There isn’t much in them and they’re very brief. And stop suddenly.

But you do glean that the changes that his editor wanted to make to the first book, which was then called “Men Who Hate Women,” regarded Salander’s weight(!)

The editor/publisher also doesn’t like Larson’s title. And after his untimely death, they changed it to the “The Girl With…” series, etc…I wonder what he’d thought of that. I don’t think he would’ve liked that…He was an INCREDIBLY staunch feminist.

I looked up and the girl was gone…

Just finished”The Girl With the Snake Tattoo”

It looks like a lovely fall day outside in New York…Ah, Autumn in New York…Supposedly the best season…When I was living in London, I always used to fly back to New York in Sept./Oct, missing the heat and humidity of the summers and leaving before the blistering cold of the winters…

Just finished reading “The Girl With the Snake Tattoo”! Phew! My first complete Steig Larson novel experience, and yes, it’s a terrific read. “Unput-downable” as  a colleague  of the late Larson says in the upcoming FOURTH volume. And it certainly is…

So tragic that this brilliant writer is dead. He could’ve gone on and on giving us more Lisbeth Salander/Mikael Bloomkvist thrillers…but at least we have the three he lived to complete…

According to a mention in the upcoming FOURTH volume, which is a collection of articles about him and essays AND HIS EMAILS! That there was an uncompleted three-quarters of a FOURTH volume and an outline for a fifth in his computer…when he died of heart attack at 50. And the tragedy of his early death just overwhelms me…He never lived to see this all happen. So sad…And the emails between him and his editor Eva Gedin are frustratingly few and brief and end sooo abruptly…He sounded like he was working himself to death before these books came out…

Why is this all so gripping?

Well, Lisbeth Salander is just this GRRRRRRREAT literary creation and her outrageous, rage-filled character is dropped right into the middle of a VERY traditional formula= the crime or suspense novel.  Or for mystery fiction  She’s a great detective. Which is what this really is and why this really works so well. It’s a whodunnit in the great Agatha Christie style. Miss Marple is now a punk rock hacker.

the eccentric,brilliant bisexual biker/hacker, Lisbeth, with her nose and eyebrow piercings and her spiky hair, COULDN’T be more unique in this type of genre. Or any genre really. She just JUMPS off the page at you and GRABS your attention and holds it for the duration. Just as the equally brilliant and intense Swedish/Icelandic/Spanish actress Noomi Rapace does in the movies.

And she’s balanced by her Sherlock Holmes, the banal, middle-aged investigative reporter Mikael Bloomkvist, who is the stolid, plodding alter ego of the late Larson himself, I’m guessing.

 So the audience has HIM to identify with, if they can’t wrap their heads around the quirky, surly Lisbeth, whose personality is as spiky as her hair-do. She’s a punk Dr. Watson, who keeps stealing the stage from Mikael Bloomkvist, her unlikely partner-in-crime solving…

Having seen the THIRD movie FIRST(I do everything backwards) this is beginning to make much more sense.

There’s a vast cast of supporting players and that did confuse me for a bit in the “Hornet’s Nest” movie. I didn’t “get” Bloomkvist and his relationship with his ex-wife, his teen-aged daughter and also the married co-publisher of the magazine he writes for who is named Erika Berger, who he has this very Scandinavian on-again, off-again sexual relationship with.

In the movie, she’s played by the great Bergmann actress Lena Anders, and I thought it odd that she took such a supporting role, but now I see why. She’s a major character in “Snake Tattoo” and obviously  continues that way through all the films and all the books. So it’s the middle one that I still have to try to finish before I interview Noomi Rapace on Wed.

But I’m doing  my homework!

And being gripped by “Snake” which is in the end quite quite sick and shocking….I just COULDN’T STOP reading it!

Well, Steig Larson was re-inventing and expanding a very tried and true formula, the  detective murder mystery and putting a very mod, Swedish gloss on it. And Sweden itself is a delightful, major character here. In the third movie “Hornet’s Nest”, Stockholm looks like an amazingly new, refreshing romantic locale, and nothing at all the like Stockholm of Ingmar Bergmann’s movies. It’s like some place we’ve never seen before. It’s enchanting…and also frightening.

Mikael Bloomkvist, when we first met, in the first several chapters, is actually quite boring. I almost didn’t make it any further – then BLAM! Lisbeth Salander enters the scene and she just TAKES over the book, as she does the movie, in her intense, fascinating way.

So I look forward to reading Book 2 “The Girl Who Played with Fire” and to interviewing Noomi Rapace herself on Wed.! I’m having a Stieg Larson week, for sure! It’s like a trip to today’s Sweden, and I can’t wait to go back!

Upcoming! Me & Noomi! And a FOURTH volume of Steig for Xmas!

Newsflash! I’m going to be interviewing the great Swedish actress Noomi Rapace(still don’t know how to pronounce her name, but on Wed. I’ll find out!) who has played the ASTOUNDING, maybe the most ASTOUNDING and original female character, well, perhaps EVAH in the noir genre. She’s captured world-wide attention in the three Steig Larson crime novels, “The Girl With the Snake Tattoo”, “The Girl who Played with Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.” A.K.A. The Millenial Trilogy.

And as you know, dear readers, dear cineastes, I just saw the “Hornet’s Nest” movie a few weeks ago and was TOTALLY blown away by it! It was my first Lisbeth Salander/Noomi Rapace/Steig Larson encounter, and it’s not going to be my last!

I now am starting at the beginning of the Trilogy with the first book and am totally gripped by it. Lisbeth and the Swedish setting are all so new for a Whodunit, which the first book is turning out to be…In this volume, she’s sort of a sullen coffee girl at a Private Investigator’s office, who quickly works her way up to a Private Eye herself. From seeing the third movie FIRST, who knew? In the third movie, she’s a criminal herself! So it starts with her in a hospital recovering from gunshot wounds to the head and abdomen…How she got from here to there is quite the thrillerdillerchiller ~It’s now becoming clearer and just who and what her relationship is with this writer Mikael and his magazine that she gets herself involved with is!…You do need to read all three books to get the depths and the layers of the plots and the characters he’s laying out…

Starting at the end, I was indeed very confused by the back story, and it really is an epic . A Nordic saga. Sort of a Swedish War and Peace. And there’s plenty more characters that need explication, like for instance the ubiquitous co-lead Michael Blomkvist, who is going to be played in the movie by the great Daniel Craig, and he really is a terrific actor, when challenged -that David Fincher is now currently shooting with Craig and Rooney Mara (“The Social Network”s only woman to make an impact, and she’s TERRIFIC in it!) So Fincher and Rooney are going at it again and how good will these American films be? 

Well, she’s very talented and intense and Fincher’s great with creeped-out atmopherics(“Zodiac”, “Se7en”) but how good will the script be is my question? It always comes down to that.

But at any rate, you will have the REAL Swedish DEAL to relish very, very soon “With the Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” AND!

Coming out in time for Christmas, Knopf is issuing a FOURTH volume!

YES! A boxed set containing Essays and Memories and his EMAILS (yes, it’s come to that, friends) with his publishers…Plus the three hardcover novels! What a Christmas present! I’m already reading the manuscript of that fourth volume now. And it’s necessary. Essential reading.

And his untimely death JUST before the books began to be published is one of the most tragic backstories in recent literary history…And makes the whole series even more eerie, scary, disturbing, poignant…As Lisbeth Salander herself is…

More soon on this ongoing literary phenomenon! And why are they re-making it soooo quickly as an American version? Simple answer. It’s a license to print money….

And he never lived to see any of it…It IS a Swedish War and Peace! And fulfills that crazy unsatiated craving for a dark Swedish delight to that left us when Ingmar Bergman died…And now Steig Larson is gone, too! But Lizbeth Salander LIVES!

And could Noomi Rapace be nominated for a Best Actress in a very crowded field. I say, GO FOR IT NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMI!

Update! Up til 2 in the morning, not able to put “The Girl with the Snake Tattoo” down! And still trying to figure out how to work with Brave New World called WordPress! The trackback “Noomi Rapace’s Blog” excellent little bio and pic! And my goodness gracious, does she look differnt in the picture!

And she’s worked with R. Gunlaugsson, who is supposed to be one of the most difficult directors in Icelandic film! I know! Cuz I was there doing my show TWICE in the winter of ’99 for Christmas, then again the following June of 2000! Loved it there! So this makes her the most famous female to come out of Iceland since Byork!

Betty Buckley “Buckles” at Town Hall

For one night only, Broadway Legend Betty Buckley( or Betty Buckles as she’s known to friends) held sway at the equally legendary, all-purpose booking site Town Hall.

Lately Town Hall has been the site of a resurgence of activity promoting the Great American Song Book in all the years of its’ glory with Scott Siegel’s long-running critically acclaimed “Broadway by the Year” series.

Never one to pause for a moment, Siegel also started a  Broadway Cabaret Festival in October, a weekend, three days of non-stop show tunes and belters. And Betty Buckles was the centerpiece evening. On Saturday night, natch.

I was at turns delighted and frustrated by Miss Buckles who I had seen in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard” and who I thought was the best of all the singing, stair-climbing Norma Desmonds …And I couldn’t wait to hear her revive at least a couple of numbers. But she did none of them. Nada. Zilch!

But FINALLY we did hear her, admittedly reluctantly, sing the living daylights out of her iconic signature tune “Memory” from Lloyd Webber’s “Cats,” and sing it she did! And she acted it, too. Turning into Grizabella, the Glamour Cat right before our delighted eyes, feline stance and movements, etc…

And the crowd went wild.

But it was a pretty long, dry-ish wait for that Golden Moment.

I have a theory about Betty Buckles, and this evening proved me right, I think.

She has an unusual voice, a belt that is now close to a rasp. And she was pretty rasp-y through at least the first three numbers. She then began to relax a bit, and her voice got more under control and mellifluous as she then launced into her 50 min.(!) first act. There was then the LONGEST intermission this side of Liza Minelli, and then ANOTHER long second act. The minutes flew by like hours.

My theory, and she proved it that night, is that she is a great singing ACTRESS, as opposed to a great singer. Her voice is very unusual. She just did an album with T-Bone Burnett and I can’t wait to hear that colloboration. She did the blues numbers she chose, like Billie Holidays “Been Down So Long,” surprisingly well.

But mostly she stayed away from Broadway show tunes that she was associated with and gave us one obscure cabaret song after another. Some really worked like “A Ghost in This House” whereas others were mostly just OK.

She did a fair rendition of shows she never got cast in like “Annie Get Your Gun.” “Lost in His Arms” was  nicely romantic. And a couple of “King and I”s, like “We Kiss in the Shadows,” which she hooked up with the latest gay teen suicides, which was admirable.

But the songs she sang from the shows she didn’t get, showed unfortunately kind of WHY, she didn’t get them. Hence my hunger for her dramatic Norma Desmond ditties, which went unsatiated, as I said.

She also made the wonderful annoucement that she has come out of semi-retirement in Texas, where she’s from and now lives. “You must understand that I’m a cowgirl, ” she said close to the opening of the show.

 She told us that she is now in residence in San Francisco, where she is workshopping a Broadway-hopeful musical version of Arimsted Maupin’s “Tales of the City.” “And I’m playing Anna Madrigal!” she declared triumphantly, and again the crowd roared its’ approval.

But then, frustratingly, she didn’t sing any numbers from it!

So although her patter between the songs was informative, bitchy, behind-the-scenes fun, her cabaret song-after-cabaret song underwhelmed.

But it was thrilling to see her in the flesh. A bona-fide Broadway icon, now facing late middle age…Her “September Song” was VERY good.

She addressed the topics of lost love and aging in her musical choices over and over and over again…

So all-in-all I’d say Betty Buckles was a mixed-bag at Town Hall.

Sally Hawkins is EVERYWHERE!

Dear Readers, Dear Cineastes, Dear New York, New Yorkers,

If you haven’t been besieged yet by the on-all-fronts assault of the diminutive British actress Sally Hawkins, you soon will be. How could this tiny little lady be everywhere in all media all at the same time all throughout this fall. Well, I’ll tell you…

Of course, if you’re like me, you will have rushed out and seen her already in the Roundabout Theater’s new production of the rarely seen “Mrs. Warren’s Profession” on Broadway at the American Airlines theater.

And you WILL have RUSHED there to see the shimmering Cherry Jones in one of her career-best performances as the salty Mrs. Warren. And Sally is her daughter, who is NOT salty. And the plot of its’ still scandalous subject matter is…well more on this later…

But right now I just wanted to rave about ANOTHER Sally Hawkins vehicle that is coming soon to a theater near YOU (if you live in a “select city,” and I do!). It’s “Made in Dagenham” a Brit indie, distributed by Sony Pictures Classics, that has “Oscar-bait” written all over it…Sally Hawkins has this unique,endearing quality that just breaks your heart. She just jumps off the screen at you! She does! And she has a vulnerablity that just makes you want to just reach out and hug her.

This is why Oscar is gonna show a lot of  love for “Made inDagenham”(Pronounced “DAG -in’um”) It stars Oscar bridesmaid Sally Hawkins(I told this was going to be all about Sally Hawkins, didn’t I?) as Rita (think Tushingham, and you’ll be right) as a spunky, driven Union Organizer in London’s East End in 1968. It is the time when women were first beginning to demand equal pay. And Sally H. is the leader of this movement, which is chronicled quite engagingly in this enjoyable, heart-warming, cheery movie about, yes, an auto factory workers strike.

Sally is the darling of the British Indie films right now having scored BIG TIME last year with the central character of the loopy kindergarten teacher Poppy, who was the embodiment of the title “Happy-G0-Lucky”.

Writer/director Mike Leigh has been able to score Oscar nominations for several of his ladies, leading and supporting, in the past, but Sally’s Poppy was scandalously snubbed. She WON a Golden Globe for “Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy” however, so she wasn’t exactly awards-free in her big, stateside debut moment.

Why didn’t she get an Oscar nomination for “Happy Go Lucky”? The shocking reason is that the new Miramax that was handling the film and its’ campaign DIDN’T SEND OUT SCREENERS TO THE ACADEMY MEMBERS at the voting time for nominations, which is about NOW.

That still baffles me. That Daniel Battsek, a fellow Brit, would sink her Oscar campaign like stone, but that’s exactly what he did. It was the kiss of death for Sally.

Will she fare better with a much NOBLER, ADMIRABLE, SAINTLY, Joan-of-Arc of the Auto Seamtresses? SOMEone has to sow the seat-covers in a car together, y’know. And this movie is about THESE women, and sewing and sweating madly in their bras and girdles in their overheated factory shed(that’s a sight I won’t soon forget!) and you love ’em all.

Sally certainly turns in an admirable performance ably exhibiting all these many and varied qualities. She’s like a British Norma Rae…Meek housewife turns fiery Union rabble rouser- That role won another Sally (Field) an Oscar…but this time…faced with ANOTHER admirable/lovable Sally…Hmmm.(That’s the sound of Oscar himself, thinking, thinking…)

And Oscar is not-unknown for skipping over some one very worthy one year and making up for it the following one. Especially Brits. And you’re going to see this happen when Colin Firth who was nominated last year and won the BAFTA, but not the Oscar for his stupendous performance in “The Single Man” will for sure win this year for his equally admirable, breathtaking performance as the stuttering King George VI in “The King’s Speech.” So there’s a precedent for this happening to our Sally, too. Maybe not winning, but certainly nominated.

And Sally Hawkins is everyone’s new Cockney sweetheart. Think Eliza Doolitle at a Ford factory sewing machine. Didn’t that image just tug on your heart? Eh, guv’nor? Just a little? 

Though this is a year that is JAMMED with Oscar Bait-y lead  female perfomances. Coming at us like two mack trucks, and in the running are BOTH leading ladies, the two Lesbian Moms, of “The Kids Are All Right” Annette Bening and Julianne Moore, and Focus is running both as leads(!?!). Natalie Portman in “The Black Swan” and Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole” look like locks. There’s Noomi Rapace in “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” which is really a THREE film nomination (IF it happens) for the whole Steig Larson Millenium trilogy…and others…But if they keep dropping like flies, like Hilary Swank just did for the tepid reviews and Low B.O. of “Convinction,”Sally Hawkins may still be in it to win it.

Being an Oscar left-out last year, really hurt her burgeoning international career, and once an Oscar-bridesmaid, always an Oscar-bridesmaid…Just ask the late Tony Curtis about that particular phenomenon…OR her look-alike, sound-alike British character actress/star Rita Tushingham (“A Taste of Honey”)…Remember HER? But Rita DID get nommed for Jo, her heart-breaking pregnant working girl in the slums of Liverpool And it was a best actress nomination, too….Hmmm. Sally is sounding more likely by the minute…

Even more likely, in fact, PROBABLY a DEFINITE for an Oscar nod is Supporting actress, Miranda Richardson as a “fiery redhead” Barbara Castle, who is also based on a real life character, this time the former British Secretary of State, who helps Sally’s and the movement’s limping  self-esteem in the pen-ultimate moments of the movie nailing one Oscar-y scene after the other. I loved her! Always did. I’ve been predicting her to win nearly every year she’s been nominated. However, I’m not doing it this year.

I’m predicting a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Miranda’s take-no-prisoners incendiary performance. She ignites the union worker’s strife strike in exactly the same way she gets to ignite the film. She finishes with a WALLOP!

But Sally is a question mark. She’s on the Oscar Rim, the just outside of the top five nominee’s winners circle, which is exaclty where she was when she was in the running for “Happy-Go-Lucky”. She’ll PROBABLY get another Golden Globe nomination.  But winning? With all those famous gals breathing down her neck…and maybe even newcomer Jennifer Lawrence for “Winter’s Bone”….but I digress.

An Oscar nomination for Leading Actress is a shakey thing to predict for the adorable Sally H. at this moment in October, the buzz-building month for the Oscars. She could get left out precisely as she did before. But maybe not…

And this time the culprit isn’t the distributor, although…in some ways it is…because Sony Pictures Classics ALSO has Mike Leigh’s stellar career-topper “Another Year” and in it is the SUPER-STUPENDOUS performance of another little-known Brit, Leslie Manville.

And in it’s infinite (not really) wisdom, SPC has decided to run the wonderful Manville as “Lead Actress,”not Supporting. 

The irony is that Manville could win in Supporting…but no….she’s in lead…and Sally gets…left out again…I hope not…You love her. She’s got an endearing quality that makes you root for in a made-for-Sally vehicle like “Made in Dagenham.” It’s a marvelous, heart-warming film…but…Sally’s Oscar chances…Up In The Air…

Whereas I think Mighty Miranda Richardson fiery redhead is a lock for Best Supp. Actress. And Sally is…dubious…But good luck, Sally! If your character Rita can bring the Ford motor company to its’ collective knees…Maybe you can do the same with Oscar…

Anthony & Conor & I Go to the Oscars @ Angus McIndoe’s!

So then, the next night, Conor and Anthony wanted to meet me for drinks after a hard day of Comic Con signing. And it was a hard day, by all accounts. 100,ooo people were expected. I didn’t go, but I did meet them at Angus McIndoe’s Broadway restaurant on W.43rd St. Of course, they were late. The crowds at Comic Con disrupted the bus service for BLOCKS around the Javitz center, as only Presidents at the UN do…I hate when that happens! A Native New Yorker’s reaction…and when you see NYC bus drivers freakin’ out, you know you have, well, a situation…that they weren’t prepared for. Going home on Friday night from Comic Con I had to wait something like AN HOUR for a bus!

But now on to Saturday Night…And they, the young Bardolator-Cartoonists, were as dazed and confused and thrilled to be in New York as I was to be at Comic Con.

So there we were on the third floor of the fabulous Angus McIndoe’s which I assured them was the innest of the in-crowd spots…for the Broadway crowd…

And then, Anthony, esp. got down to business. As we formulated plots to take over the entire world (of Show Business) Master Del Col wanted to know everything that I could possibly tell him about his year’s Oscar race.

Which. as a died-in-the-wool Oscarologist for Awardsdaily.com and here, I was only too happy to tell him exactly what I thought was happening, and of course, I’m always right.

Who else thinks about the Oscars 24/7, 365 days a year? Except me, Sasha Stone, Tom O’Neill and Harvey Weinstein….

Anthony knew that I HATED “The Social Network” and they both wanted to know why.

“Jesse Irritatingberg’s one note performance” is what I said, “He gave me a headache” That I still experience BTW every time I think of that most-over-hyped of films and how disappointed I was.

I don’t live and die by Facebook, and neither may I add does the Academy.They’re all famous. So they can’t be on it. Except as fan pages. So, to them, it’s an invasion of their privacy. They aren’t ONLINE. Some don’t even OWN a computer (but they won’t admit it). They don’t like or care about the Internet, as evidently alllll of my critical colleagues do. They like getting their mail IN THE MAIL!

And Sasha Stone, the webmistress of Awardsdaily.com LOVES it! “The Social Network” that is.

And it makes me sad to disagree with her. So I try to understand WHERE she’s coming from…

But this one is hard…

I told Anthony and Conor that Sony is mounting a three-way Supporting Actor campaign for the three young thespians of “The Social Network”, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake(who brought sexy back, y’know) and Armie Hammer, who as the Winkelvoss twins – BOTH OF THEM! Is actually sex personified…All 6’4″ 220 pounds of him.

Armie’s campaign already brought HIM to ME. Armie(both of him) was even on MY TV show via satellite in a hilarious four to five minute interview that hopefully will be on my YouTube Channel soon. As will the Oscar bound Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. Keep watching www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

The lovely and gracious Mlle. Marion Cotillard is now up, and in the main frame and couldn’t have been more heavenly! She seems to glow like gold.  Yes, she’s even more beautiful in person!

And Conor and Anthony, as I keep reminding you are there, too. On my YouTube channel. AND they have their own website(I just have this blog…for the time being…) www.killshakespeare.com

And I told them that I think with the UNBELIEVABLY expensive Oscar campaign that is being mounted for “Inception” in every category that Leonardo Di Caprio(Best Actor) and Marion(Best Supporting Actress) could be very likely swept in.

Anthony and Conor were ASTOUNDED when I explained to them that the actual TALENT and WORTHINESS of the performances or pictures being considered doesn’t really matter so much as the CAMPAIGN and the MILLIONS of dollars (yes, MILLIONS!) that the studios and distributors mount for each of their Oscar-bait movies. It’s crazy, but it’s true.

For instance, I STILL have yet to receive a screener or invitation to a screening for “Winter’s Bone”. That means, there’s no campaign there. No PUSH. And I’ve asked…

I had to SCREAM MY BLOODY head off…Or rather mention it discretely…in the Comments section of Awardsdailly…before I actually heard from the WB peeps. And I don’t mean Warner Brothers…So no campaign=No nomination.

Michael Douglas is very. very ill and that could lead him to be nominated for Best Actor for “Solitary Man” and Best Supporting Actor of “Wall St.2″…Awardsdaily isn’t considering this as a factor, but believe me he is very sick and very much on the Academy’s mind at the moment…And this influences them. Esp. the Actor’s Branch, who nominate The Best Actors and Actresses…

Actress is between “The Black Swan”s Natalie Portman and Annette Bening. IF she even gets nominated and doesn’t split her own vote. Annette Bening doesn’t split her own vote with “Mother and Child” also in the race from Sony Pictures Classics. Annette is up for “The Kids Are All Right” the lesbian mother movie. If Annette’s very strongly matched co-star and co-parent in TKAAR Julianne Moore doesn’t get nominated….THAT might also split Annette’s vote. So we may have THREE Lesbian performances nominated for Best Actress. So we could have our first gay female character winner. Hilary Swank in “Boy’s Don’t Cry” was playing a transgender…

Which leaves the stunning Natalie Portman a clear field…Though her character is a lesbian, too. Or certainly has a LARGE LESBIAN moment…With Mila Kunis. Nicole Kidman, playing a straight, greiving mother in “Rabbit Hole” is also the most likely.

That’s for Best Actress…Best Supporting Actress, as I told Anthony and Conor that night at Angus’, is a VERY wide open field…Or it least it WAS on Saturday.

On Monday, David Poland’s Gurus’o’Gold www.moviecitynews.com
came out and awarded “The King’s Speech” First place (by one vote over “The Social Network”), Colin Firth #1 as Best Actor for that film.(James Franco is 30 points behind) and Geoffrey Rush nailed Best Supp. Actor and so did *gasp* Helena Bonham Carter for Best Supp. Actress for “The King’s Speech”!and yes, I think she may indeed get it. If the GOGs say so….

Having been one once myself…but that’s another story…R U listening DAVID POLAND?!?!

I don’t know if I confused Anthony and Conor, but I certainly enlightened them as to just WHAT goes into getting an Oscar. Or as my wonderful Sasha Stone calls it “this silliines.”

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Conor and Anthony and their “Kill Shakespeare” adventures, and I had this astounding thought that if Shakespeare were alive today, he would be THEM!

And I told them this.

And Conor said, “Would you write about that?” and I said, “Of course I would”

I write down everything everybody says to me now that I have this wonderful Blog of Blogs!

Dazed and Confused @ Comic-Con NYC

Well, Bardolator/Cartoonists extraordinare Conor Mc Creery and Anthony Del Col took New York by storm, a veritable Elizabethan Tempest as it were, by DRAGGING me kicking and screaming into the 21st Century by being all present and accounted for at New York’s Comic Con. An event I had never attended, nor wanted to. But yet, there I was, as if drawn by the magnetic powers of these two, uber-talented-hypenate-magic men.

They had won the “Pitch This” contest at TIFF and were guests on my show and you can still see them on my YouTube homepage right under the beauteous Maid Marion (Cotillard) www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

What was I doooooing there?!?!?

It really was too much.

It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before in my lifetime, except maybe Hallowe’en…

There were very young freaks and geeks in all kinds of costumes. I thought I missed October. And it WAS Hallowe’en already. But no. It was Comic Con and the extent and breadth and DEPTH of its’ popularity just astounded me.

As Conor said, (or words to that effect) “Everyone is channeling their inner geek.” Or was it freak? Whatever it was, it was no longer INNER. But y’know, I kinda liked it. In the end, the energy and the excitement was endearing. That all these people of all ages(except mine) were that THRILLED to be that close to inanimate objects(comic books) was kind of wonderful.

It took me reluctantly back to my childhood, which I spent a MAJOR part of it writing and meticulously drawing,  yes, my OWN comic books, that I drew for my appreciative siblings and other children in the neighborhood.

I loved doing it. I wrote one particular strip til I went away to college. And THEN I discovered the “The-a-ter” and acting (which I was majoring in) and that was the end of my comic book phase. But it was one VERY long phase indeed, looking back on it.

And then, I just lost touch with the comic book world completely.

Then ZAP! BANG! POW! Batman, there were Conor and Anthony pulling me right back into it!

I was very happy to see them again, as overwhelmed as I was by the enormity of Comic Con in the Jacob Javitz center (of all places), and the dynamic duo of Conor and Anthongy seemed to be having the time of their lives signing, signing, signing. And posing for pictures. And signing. And shaking hands. With EVERYone!

They were unfailingly polite and patiently courteous to every single fan and devotee of “Kill Shakespeare.” That’s the Canadian in them coming out.

And Conor was holding the upcoming Graphic Novel version of the combined first twelve issues in his hands, like it was some kind of miracle baby. Which actually it was. Printed on glossy paper and bound. THIS he explained to me was what a graphic novel was….

And I know that parental, prideful feeling. When as a playwright, I first held my first(and only) published play “The Casting of Kevin Christian” which was translated and published into GERMAN in GERMANY as “Die Rolle de Kevin Christian.” It was a profoundly moving moment when those little blue volumes arrived in the mail somewhere in the late ’80s…Maybe someday all of my plays will be published *sigh*

So I know what Conor, and Anthony were going through.

And it is a beautiful moment.

And Comic Con was so colorful, and in the end actually so diverse and interesting I was kicking myself that I didn’t bring a camera crew to record these wonderfully telegenic guyz Big New York Moment.

But there’ll be others. And guess what? They wanted to meet me for drinks the next night! And so we did!

To be continued! As the Bard would say…

“The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” KICKS IT!

Wow! Never having seen any of the previous two films in the Lisbeth Salander trilogy, “The Girl with the Snake Tattoo” and “The Girl Who Played with Fire”, I wasn’t ready to be quite so blown away as I was by the third and concluding part of the late Stieg Larson’s extremely popular series, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”. WOW! I’ll say it again. WOW! or even WHOA!

Coming new to the Lisbeth Salander saga, the beginning of the film was very confusing to me – for awhile. But I was not confused by Noomi Rapace’s Salander, I was riveted!

I don’t know when I’ve been so taken with a leading female character who is so disturbingly original and so totally unique to film. She scares as well as enthralls.

And Swedish actress Noomi Rapace’s embodies her utterly, completely. Her dark hair and pale skin, such a striking contrast to the usual heroines of Swedish films, think of all of Bergman’s blonder-than-blonde leading ladies, hit you with a jolt. And her piercing dark eyes burn holes in the screen.

The unlikliest of female characters, with her beyond-Goth, punked-out-to-the-max, leather and metal gear, her piercings, etc. Never mind the gigantic snake tattoo on her ENTIRE back,  she grabs your attention and holds it to her and never lets you out of her vise-like, cerebral grip… like all the magnetic stars of Hollywood’s past have done. But this is no beauty queen. No Marlene Dietrich, though she kept reminding me of Dietrich.
Someone who commanded your interest,and dominated the screen, no matter what role she was playing.

But her cutting edge looks and searing manner(she’s stringently anti-social)  are unforgettable and the film around her, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” is every bit as riveting as she is. Director Daniel Alfredson has done his work very, very well.

We open the film with a series of what seem to be choppy flash-backs and recaps without dialogue for the opening credits of the film, then BLAM! We’re in the cleanest of Swedish hospitals where a wounded Salander is recovering from a gun-shot wound TO THE HEAD. Nearby is one of her arch enemies. And all around her creep bad guys(and many of Sweden greatest actors of a certain age) who all look like they could be kindly grandfathers, but who are all government figures involved in a VERY corrupt Swedish state.The atmosphere is dark, dark, dark,  constantly frightening, and very violent. Everybody wants to either kill Salander, lock her up in prison, or in a mental hosptial. And Rapace keeps you rooting for her every step of the way.

We then procede to watch Salander get brain surgery and the bullet is removed from her head, her exposed brain, right  in the unflinching camera’s horrifying gaze. She’s also shot in the leg and the shoulder, but its’ the head wound that is the most traumatic, and we’re off! Totally gripped by this spine-tingling thriller. And we’re with Salander as she goes through the stages of her recovery as murder and mayhem occurs in the hospital setting all around her. But she emerges unscathed(of course) and to fight again against all the forces of darkness that are gathering to silence her forever.

I’m now equally in the thrall of the BOOK, the novel that “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” is based on and I’m gripped by it as well. Publisher Alfred Knopf. Hardcover. And no, it’s not in Paperback yet.

Kudos to all involved and to Noomi Rapace…my new screen heroine, may your Oscar campaign succeed! This is one of the great female screen performances of the ages. Noomi Rapace’s Lisbeth Salander is up there with the best!

Right now, Mr. Hot Himself, David Fincher is shooting the American version the Steig Larson Millenium trilogy with one of the best young screen actresses around today, “The Social Network”s fiery, first scene gal, Rooney Mara…Fincher, whose “Zodiac” is one of my favorite, overlooked films, should work well with this darkest, most paranoid of thrillers.  He also directed the super dark “Se7en” way back when Brad and Gwyneth were an item…

But how can he top the perfection that is Noomi Rapace’s and director Daniel Alfredson’s?

We’ll see, but right now, I’m enjoying the hell out of re-living all the tense highs and frightening lows of the book itself. “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”. Yeah! Kick it, Lisbeth! Kick it!

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