a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for December, 2010

The Blizzard of 2010, Scary stuff on the Great WHITE Way!

And how did I a native New Yorker cope? Well, as you all know, who’ve read the previous post I went to see a Broadway show! “Lombardi” and amazingly the audience turned up, all Football fans, seemingly, as I described previously, and also amazingly the stars turned up too!

All the lights were ON on Broadway last night and today now that the heaviest snowfall I’ve ever been trapped in is over, the shows that are scheduled for Monday night performances will all go on as planned. All the stars must live within walking distance is all I can say.

It was snowing so heavily and the wind was so high I was literally blown down into the subway when I was first attempting to go out to see “Lombardi” last night. I staggered up to the nearest bus stop with a scarf wrapped around my head, but there was NO BUS or any traffic at all for that matter in sight, so I continued staggering this way and that, nearly being blown down by the gale force wind, and into the nice warm subway.

I have never felt the subways were so welcoming IN MY LIFE. But first I had to negotiate the snow-ladden steps.

There was a subway worker below me,  shoveling the steps like crazy, but this particular station had three flights going down. I guess most do now that I am counting subway flights and I could see the two lower flights, enclosed as they were by the subway station itself, were pretty clear.

I was going so slowly taking only one step at a time that a man offered to help me.  And he said, “Do you need help getting down, sir?”

I was astonished that I looked so shaky that I needed help, but also was surprised that he said “Sir” and not “Ma’am” as that’s what I usually get when I’m all bundled up and with a scarf wrapped around my head!

The subway came right away and it was pleasantly, if not almost tropically warm. It was jammed though and I couldn’t get a seat. People must have been waiting a long time for this one. But since it came almost right away, I didn’t mind.

Getting off, getting out and getting UP the subway steps was much easier and faster and now I could see above me that the storm had increased ferociously even though I had been underground for a very short time.

I left the house at 6pm for a 7pm curtain and boy, was I glad I did! Since the subway had come so quickly, I got there in a very timely fashion. It was hell crossing the street to the Circle in the Square theater and I wondered if indeed there was going to be a performance that night. I didn’t call ahead to check.

But the TV news shows said that all the shows on Broadway were open tonight, so I assumed “Lombardi” was, too.

And indeed it was. The lobby was not exactly packed, but it was quite full and I managed to find a seat on a lobby radiator to sit down on before the house opened. It seemed like everyone who had bought  a ticket before this monster storm happened had indeed turned up.

Then once ensconced inside, it was all business as usual, except for the rather stunned, credulous expressions on most audience members’ faces. Like they were as surprised as I was that we had all gotten out in a BLIZZARD to see a Broadway show! But we did!

And the show did go on with the entire star-studded cast intact and performing their hearts out!

See previous post~

Ah! The delights and dangers of being a dedicated New York theater-goer! Ah, Broadway! Ah, Wilderness!

I Go to See a Bway show “Lombardi” in A BLIZZZZZAARD!

I can’t believe I did it, but I did it! It’s the middle of the worst, wildest snow weather and blizzard with SNOW THUNDER! I HEARD IT! Evidently there was lightening, too, but I didn’t see it because the snow was falling so thickly and fastly( Is that even a word????) and the wind was nearly knocking me over! WHY WAS I GOING OUT IN THIS?!?

Well, I just had to see my next guest on my TV show the brilliant Bill Dawes in “Lombardi”! At the Circle in the Square downstairs of “Wicked” and guess what? The audience showed up!!

I saw Bill afterwards and he commented that the audience was “so quiet”.

“Well,” I said, “They’re all exhausted getting here.” But they were really enjoying it!

I mean with 30-40mph winds, and the thickest, heaviest snow I’d ever seen in my life, it was a miracle that we all made it there in this Blizzard of 2010.

I mean, they always talk about the blizzard of 1888 as being THE WORST in recorded history. I think that occured in March of that year….And NO I wasn’t around for it. But this is certainly going to be in the record books. I’ve never seen anything like it.

It does transform the city. But in a scary not pretty way. It was like a hurricane, but with snow.

And how was the play? MARVAHLOUS, DAHLING! This is my second time seeing it, and I hate football and know nothing about it. But “Lombardi” has got me to thinking about it and liking it, well, just a little bit.

It’s interesting how well and simply done this play is and that even if you don’t know anything about football, it pulls you in and you enjoy it. It’s also interesting to note that this play is reaching an audience that doesn’t usually come to Broadway, football fans.

And football fans are used to braving bad weather to see The Game. But this blizzard phenomenon shows you how dedicated this audience was. To get there. And the actors, too! I heard people saying “Well, the show must go on.” And interestingly there was a day-after-Christmas Sunday MATINEE, too! As well as a 7pm Sunday night performance. They had Christmas Eve off, then they had a show Christmas Day night, which was a Saturday, and then two on Sunday. So since they performed earlier that day, the actors, including stars Dan Luria and Judith Light were presumably right near by or actually still in the theater itself. That’s what dressing rooms are for!

And every show on Broadway played last night during the Blizzard! Amazing!

The play which I practically risked my life to see ~ is about the life of Vince Lombardi, the famous Notre Dame football coach. And it’s a damn good play. I saw it first in late October right after it opened. And since it’s been such a long time between then and now(I’ve seen enough movies and plays to last most people a lifetime. Between the Drama Desk possiblities and the Oscar seekers. PHEW! But it’s been wonderful, too, of course. Or only as good as the movies and the plays you’re seeing.)it’s been such a long time I just HAD to see it again.

And I’m sooo glad I did! How often do you see a Broadway play, stars intact, in a BLIZZARD?!? I’d never done THAT before!

And the entire cast just gave it their all!

And I knew, I just knew that “Lombardi” was here for the long haul on the Great White Way, which really IS white right now!

It’s a solid endearing portrait of a good, Catholic marriage. Lombardi is brought to memorably vivid life by veteran character actor Dan Luria, who looks just like Lombardi, and  who, if this play keeps running and running as it is, he may be nominated for the Tony for Best Actor. And certainly the Drama Desk will remember his strong, endearing performance come awards time which is at the end of April. “Lombardi” is the only play that opened this fall, and Broadway had the healthiest, most robust fall season that I can ever remember, that is continuing to run into the New Year and beyond! “Driving Miss Daisy” it’s been announced is also continuing through the Spring. It could be Dan Luria vs. James Earl Jones for the Best Actor Tony Award.

 And Judith Light as Lombardi’s conflicted but devoted wife is a revelation and utterly wonderful and award-ready herself.

This play is really about the transition of an Englewood, New Jersey couple to the rural mid-west. Mrs. Lombardi (Light) gets an Atlas, when she knows that she and her husband are going to be perhaps re-locating and exclaims “I can’t even FIND Green Bay!”

Lombardi “It’s in Wisconsin.”

And my upcoming guest the superhumanly handsome Bill Dawes, plays the always-in-trouble blond heart-throb(every football play has to have one) real life football hero Paul Hornug, in a performance that is just as strong as the leads. He’s also a red-hot stand-up comedian, too! But more on that later! He’s on his way to a BIIIIIG career in either as a serious actor OR a comedian but probably both!

I’ll let you know what Superstar-of-the-future Bill Dawes is going to be on my show! Coming up soon, too are Ryan Gosling, Michelle Willaims and Ben Barnes!!! You’ll be able to see them soon on my You Tube Channel www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

Merry Christmas, Dear Readers!

Merry Christmas dear readers! Dear cineastes! Dear theater-lovers!

Thank you for reading my blog!

“Somewhere” is NOWHERE!

Uh! The amount of FILMS I have to watch at this time of year is positively numbing! My eyes! My eyes! And so, I can’t stop watching them, but with Sofia Coppolla’s latest sleeping pill “Somewhere” I guarantee you you won’t find this interesting.

I could’ve interview them, but I passed them up. Scandal! But if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t go to their junket! You’re only supposed to be wildly enthusiastic at junkets. But THIS film…

I couldn’t believe how BORING it was! There was NOTHING there! But maybe that’s what this film is supposed to be about NOTHING. Beckett, existentialist ennui, the absolute EMPTINESS of Hollywood. Well, OK, I’m down with all that, but boredom has to be presented, if that is your topic, in a VERY interesting way.

And Sofia C. did this subject MUCH better in “Lost in Translation” which she was VERY fortunate to have Bill Murray in, giving the greatest performance of his career. Otherwise….imagine that film WITHout him! You can’t, can you? It’s UNimaginable. And I really do feel that “Somewhere” reaveals what I have been feeling for a long time about Miss C., that there is no there there.

NOTHING! NADA! ZILCH!

And to top it off, Stephen Dorff brings NOTHING to this film. If you had a charismatic actor in that role MAYBE you would’ve had a movie. But then, maybe that’s what this film is supposed to be about. Someone who is simply KINDA good-looking, sorta semi-sexy, but not really. Somebody who isn’t talented, but is simply celebrated…Which is interesting as a premise…but…VERY difficult to pull off…If she had someone like Ryan Gosling in that role, the film MIGHT have been interesting.  Because Gosling just IS, well, interesting…but Dorff…

And Elle Fanning perks things up A BIT, as the wise child. But…not enough….

Her entrance is way too late in the film to save it.

She’s naturally and interesting and charming but that’s not enough.

A similar bad-father/good daughter film is on its’ way. “Janey Jones” which starred Alessandro Nivola and Abigail Breslin and it was just WONDERFUL!  I saw it at TIFF and I guess they have held up its’ release since they didn’t want to clash or be compared with “Somewhere.” Well, “Janey Jones” and co. there’s nothing to fear from “Somewhere.”

Focus Features has yet ANOTHER dud on their holidays hands. Skip it.

Nicolle Kidman’s great “Rabbit Hole”

I saw “Rabbit Hole” on Broadway as a voting member of the Drama Desk right before it closed, and was totally blown away by it. Cynthia Nixon played the lead, the central part that Nicolle Kidman is essaying so brilliantly in the movie of the same name. Heading for the Oscars? Yes, I think so.

That central part of the mother of a dead child is a stunning turn, if it is done right. I am not a big Cynthia Nixon fan, and yet, I was sooo taken with her searing portrayal of a seemingly unending, unbearable grief  at the Biltmore on Broadway, under the auspices of the Manhattan Theater Club, I VOTED for her for Best Actress when the Drama Desk Awards came up later that season. And she won! Tyne Daly also was nominated I think for her memorable turn as the grandmother of the dead child. I remember her very vividly.

So I was surprised at how wishy-washy the great Dianne Wiest is in the part in the movie that has just opened this week. Wiest is dressed down and is underplaying it like crazy. No make-up. Strange choices. Tyne Daily was a powerhouse in that role. However, wishy-washy Nicolle Kidman is not. She really is going to get an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for this. And she deserves it.

In a less competitive year, she could’ve won. But with Natalie Portman’s screama ballerina in play for “Black Swan.” And Annette Bening dyking it up to a fare-thee-well in “The Kids Are All Right.” I do not think Nicolle’s “Rabbit Hole” Mama is going to top either of them. But she’ll give them a run for their money.

And I think Nicolle is IN. Like the veritable Flint. However, she also HAS an Oscar and therefore, will unlikely be given one again so soon. She won not too long ago for “The Hours” playing the suicidal British author Virginia Woolf. And here again, the role that is going to take her back to the Kodak is a part dealing with death. I’ve never seen a film that deals so directly with DEATH and the grieving process as “Rabbit Hole.”

Aaron Eckhardt is also marvelous as her equally grief-stricken, but considerably more upbeat husband. But Kidman has the flashier, rangier, more surprising role. One is astonished at how well she does this. She goes to all the necessary dark places. One forgets what a good actress she really is.

Onstage, the power of David Lindsay-Abaire’s drama was overwhelming. And it won the Pulitzer Prize, the Tony AND the Drama Desk Award that year.

Transferring it to film, although it is still powerful and not at all talky, it loses some of that power. But is effective none-the-less. Choosing an extremely understated, naturalistic tone for “Rabbit Hole” the movie, director John Cameron-Mitchell has done an excellent job in what is for him, probably, a career-changer. I mean that in the best possible sense, in that “Rabbit Hole” the film shows him to have a very impressive, serious dramatic range that his other two previous films “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and “Shortbus” only hinted at.

So except for the under-achieving Dianne Weist, “Rabbit Hole” scores a “A” all ’round.

I Finally See “True Grit” A Wordy Woodpecker of a Western

Well, I guess Paramount did hear my blog screams and they sent me quite unexpectedly a DVD screener of “True Grit.” FINALLY!

“True Grit” is the latest oeuvre from the redoubtable Coen Brothers, and it’s…Ok…sort of…I mean, it’s good. Although some parts of it strain credulity. Especially the overwrought, arch script, which Jeff Bridges manages quite, quite well. And Matt Damon, too. But poor 13-year-old newcomer Hailee Stanfield has the most demanding role, verbally, that perhaps has ever been written for a tween actress.

It is to her credit that she ALMOST pulls it off. But I was always aware that it was DIALOGUE being written and spoken, and not the character’s own voice speaking.

Her child/woman dichotomy is also, paradoxically, the most unusual part of this western. Yes, the Coen’s are doing a Western. A real traditional attempt at the genre in the classic John Ford manner. And Roger Deakins’ masterful cinematography is up the task at hand. And so is Bridges. But Ms. Stanfield…well, I’m of two minds about her “performance.”

Either it’s one of the most impressive screen debuts of an ingenue ever in a very challenging role that has already netted her a SAG nomination for Best Supporting Actress, though she is ostensibly the lead. OR it’s a career ender. It’s the beginning AND the end for her. Which one is it?

Like her or not, and I’m not totally sure that I do, you can’t get away from her in this film that is mostly, as the British would say, a  three-hander. That is a three person play. And again, the script does seem overly theatrical, for a Western. The three hands being Bridges, Matt Damon and Ms. Stanfield.

We’ve never seen or heard any Oater where people talked in such highfalutin rhetorical terms. Sheesh! They could’ve almost been in a Restoration Comedy some scenes are soooo over-written. Especially at the beginning of the film. Which is very slow getting started and a lot of that is due to the clusters of almost unspeakable, and certainly almost unpronounceable verbiage  the  Coens have saddled their three leading actors with. Or in Ms. Stanfield’s case, crippled with. I know we’re supposed to believe that SHE has “True Grit.” But talk about overkill!

With the surprise SAG nomination for Stanfield, her fellow actors are obviously Haillee-ing her arrival, big time. You do feel sorry for her in that she has scene after scene after scene where her voice is Woody Woodpeckering the screen, with its’ rat-a-tat ryhmns. And you feel like I always felt like with Woody Woodpecker that I need to watch his cartoons like a need a hole in the head.

Let’s face it, the Coens are not known for their work with child actors.

But they have to take pains at the beginning of the film, to established her hard-headed, stubborn as a mule character, so that we believe and care about her all the way through the film. It’s her journey. And the coda at the end of the film, which I won’t give a away as it’s a semi-spoiler, but the film visual images are striking. And rather unforgettable.

And then there is the unvarnished delight of Roger Deakins’ breath-taking scenic vistas of the wild west. Between this film and “Meek’s Cut-Off” I feel like I’ve actually BEEN there and back this filmic fall season.

Matt Damon is very funny as a Texas Ranger named Le Bouef, but which they all pronounce “Le Beef” as in meathead. He’s the comic relief. And Bridges’ scenes with Mr. LeBeef are just terrific stuff.

I don’t know WHAT the John Wayne version of this was like. I’m sure this is a thousand times better and Rooster Cogburn won Wayne his only Oscar and it is to Bridges’ everlasting credit that he really does excel in this part, as well.

It’s sooo close to his Oscar-winning turn as Bad Blake in “Crazy Heart.” A has-been boozing singer v. this time a has-been boozing gunman. That Bridges’ makes the Coens stick-in-the-mouth dialogue that HE has to say look and sound effortless as a horses’ snorting. Well, that’s the sign of a consummate actor at the top his craft.

Is it almost tongue-twistingly unprounceable? Well, Bridges attacks each line like his eating a mouthful of steak. Chewing the scenery has never been such a sumptuous meal. And if Oscar remembers “True Grit” for anything, it’s bound to be Bridge’s excellent crowing Rooster of a performance.

If SAG, the Screen Actor’s Guild, hadn’t voted l’il Miss Woodpecker a Supporting Actress nomination, I would say she didn’t have a chance. She knocked out Jackie Weaver of the dreadful Australian “thriller” “Animal Kingdom.” But since the 2ooo plus members of the SAG nominating committee hadn’t included her, I would say she didn’t have a chance in hell of getting in. She’s no Sairose (sp?) Ronan.

But they do like nominating under-age actresses, esp. in this category and especially lately. Think Abigail Breslin of “Little Miss Sunshine.” as well as the aforementioned Ronan.

I think Roger Deakins’ superb cinematography is the strongest  award element here as well as Jeff Bridges stellar performance. Deakins could actually win in this category and I’m also sure that “True Grit” as mixed as my reactions were to it, is going to be nominated for one of the Ten Best Picture slots.

No, though, to Best Director chances of the Coens, for this Western mishmash. But if they can get nominated for “A Serious Man” last year, then they could get nominated for this — in a field of Ten, sure. Why not?

Hollywood, unbelievably, has come to love the Coens. But you can’t help compare this too well-spoken Western to their other trip West which was “No Country for Old Men.” Now, THAT was a masterpiece and won the Oscar…But “True Grit” is not NCFOM. Not by a mile there, pard’ner.

Best Supporting Actor~ChristianBale, Mark Ruffalo & Sam Rockwell

I have always seen Christian Bale, Mark Ruffalo and Sam Rockwell as a sort of trio, worthy lord knows, and veterans now of how many movies? And leads in movies? But never, ever close enough to Oscar to get even a nomination.

Yes, believe it or not, dear readers, dear cineastes, neither of those three extremely talented actors have ever gotten in Oscars door, but goodness knows, at least they’ve been knocking on it, year in and year out. And this year all three might get in.

Christian Bale is purported by many to be the front-runner for Best Supporting Actor for his wacked out portrayal of drug-addled Dickie Ekland in the increasingly popular “The Fighter.”  It’s not as though we haven’t seen a crack-wack-head portrayed on screen before, but never before has a portrayal like that made it to the cover of Sports Illustrated! See www.scottfeinberg.com for the great graphic.

It should be just a pictorial of central character Mark Wahlberg “The Fighter”‘ himself.But there is Bale pushing his head into the shot and onto the cover!

But Hollywood and all the critical masses seem to be lining up behind giving Christian Bale his first ever Oscar nomination. He just got a Golden Globe AND a SAG nom in less than a week! Can Oscar finally be opening the door to the Dark Knight himself? I think so.

But is he well-liked enough to win? His bad boy rantings were recorded and published all over the Internet when he went off on that poor techie, and he also was said to have assaulted his own mother and sister, but they dropped the charges…So…Were they true? Well, something about this scenario must be…but…Is Hollywood going to forgive Bad Boy Bale, a grown up child actor? Or are they going to think him too young to win and give it to Geoffrey Rush, who is his biggest competition, for a career-capping performance as the wacky, but not wacked out Australian Speech teacher to Colin Firth’s sure-to-win stuttering King in “The King’s Speech” ?Aye, that is the question….

Then there are the place-holders…the category-filler-outers…which is where Mark Ruffalo may get in despite his Golden Golbe snub. Ah! But then he rallied at the SAG nods and got one for Best Supporting Actor, his first, like Bale, for “The Kid’s Are All Right.”  Though it opened in the spring, this lesbian-marriage comedy has stayed the course and just did VERY well at the New York Film Critics Awards, netting its’ writer Lisa Cholodenko, who also directed it, the win for Best Screenplay over Aaron Sorkin for The Film That I Will Not Name…Yikes! No  one saw that coming! Could happen at the Oscars too BTW…but that’s another column…

Ruffalo’s performance in “Kids”? Well, as the title says, it’s All Right.

 But not great.

Not really Oscar nomination worthy, though certainly Ruffalo has given many, many performances in the past that could have been nominated, but weren’t. But this time his Only Straight Guy In a Lesbian Movie turn may be the right place at the right time. N0t his greatest work, by any means, and NOT the greatest performance in “The Kids.” But  I guess his heterosexual male presence, and he IS sexy, may assauge the SWORM to nominate him. Oh, and women like him, too. So he may get his first Oscar nomination but he certainly isn’t going to win. Not with Bale and Rush in the category.

And there there’s poor Sam Rockwell! He’s also never been nominated and just missed BOTH the SAG and the Golden Globe nominations he should’ve gotten this week for his superb turn as another difficult, jailed brother in ANOTHER  Masschusetts jail in”Conviction.”

He’s playing true-life character(as Bale and Rush are co-incidentally) Kenny Waters who spends 18 years of his life in a New England jail until he’s freed by this crusading, devoted sister played Betty Ann by Hilary Swank. And SHE just got a surprise nomination from the SAGS! She who has already won two Best Actress Oscars, is obviously more of an actor-favorite than anybody imagined, and her performance is damned-good, too.e

I just caught up with “Convinction” at a screening two DAYS ago, and I was shocked at how much I liked it.

So Hilary Swank popped up unexpectedly in Best Actress and knocked out presumed (and Golden Globe nominee) Michelle Williams. Will Swank prevail at the Oscars in another surprise win? Or will it be the equally  worthy Williams, who though nominated for Best Supporting Actress for “Brokeback Mountain” in 2005, has never been nominated in the main slot. Ah! But this time she’s gotten Oscar stealth weapon Harvey Weinstein behind her!…

I personally think that Sam Rockwell may be the one from “Conviction” to surprise, not Swank. Fox Searchlight is campaigning hard for “Conviction” even though it was a box-office flop….But they are getting the screeners into the Academy’s hands and/or getting the Academy’s asses to their screenings…of “Conviction.” So will Sam Rockwell pop up? Will he be the Oscar surprise? Heaven knows he’s worthy enough, but don’t be surprised, because you heard it here first!

Stay tuned!

SAG noms – Again “King’s Speech” leads! Hilary Swank surprises!

In less than a week, we’ve been inundated with awards and nominations to the point that only the most awards-obsessed, like me, and YOU, can keep up with the avalanche without feeling a bit numb.

Full disclosure-

I do feel a bit numbed.

But elated that my particular fave “The King’s Speech” has once again come out on top with FOUR nominations, including Colin Firth, who, let’s face it is winning EVERYTHING! Just like I told him he would, and just like Helen Mirren did before him, who was in essence playing his daughter, Elizabeth, in “The Queen,,” ANOTHER stupendous British Film from a couple of years back…

And Geoffrey Rush also now has a SAG nomination to complete his awards shelf, along with his recent Golden Globe nomination on Tuesday. Tuesday! It seems like ages ago! Geoffrey got it for Best Supporting Actor, naturallement. And Helena Bonham-Carter made the “King’s Speech” Awards quartet complete with HER nomination for playing Colin Firth’s devoted wife…ALSO named Queen Elizabeth.

Some surprises. Like Hilary Swank for Best Actress for “Conviction.” And I just SAW “Conviction ” FINALLY last night! Yes I did!  And though I had been resisting it all season…I ended up being VERY involved and moved and yes, a lot of that was Hilary’s AMAAAAAAAAZINGly strong performance as Betty Ann Waters. Also Sam Rockwell, as her jailed brother, who wrongly accused of murder, Swank spends her whole life, basically trying to get him freed. She even puts herself through Law School to do it. AND it’s a true story! And it really becomes very powerfully effecting.

I was invited to see this film a million times. And since it looked like just a formulaic courtroom drama, I kept putting it off.

But I’m baffled by the inclusion of Whatshisname in “Winter’s Whatsit” in Supporting Actor. WHERE did that come from???

Over Sam Rockwell’s heart-rending turn as Kenneth Waters, Swank’s jailed brother that she tries so valiantly to free.

He was wonderful. Subtle, yet very rangey. Powerfull AND he ages 18 years in prison, waiting for his sister to become the lawyer of lawyers and get him freed. Which we all know in the end she does, but director Tony Goldwyn really has  set up a suspenseful, edge of your seat thriller, even though we all know how it ends. It’s not a whodunnit it’s a “HowDidSheDoIt?” Interesting.

And what the Screen Actors Guild has done is pit two time Oscar winner Hilary Swank once again against her OLD arch rival Annette Bening, whom Swank trounced TWICE at the Oscars! Could this be the SAG setting Bening-Swank up for a THIRD rematch?

I guess it’s just too juicy a cat fight for the SAG nominating committee to avoid. Honestly! You guyz! But Hilary Swank really is quite, quite wonderful and powerful in this film that she also got produced. Actors really admire that. And in fact, all the nominees in Best Actress were instrumental in getting their films to the screen. With the usual paucity of Best Actress nominees, this Superstar/Actress/Producer change may be what’s making this year’s Best Actress race the most competitive in years! I think it’s great!

Could Swank upset Natalie Portman, who is also nominated for Best Actress, mais oui, for her crumbling ballerina in “Black Swan”? Well, I don’t think ANYone can upset Portman’s apple cart, quite frankly…And again, Natalie Portman put in something like ten years or more trying to get this film produced.

But what SAG has done here in the Best Actress category is knock the lovely Michelle Williams of “Blue Valentine” ALSO powerful, compelling and unforgettable, out of the top five actresses. And that’s not good for Williams’ Oscar chances. Also Ryan Gosling was not nominated for Best Actor for “Blue Valentine” for the SAGS where he and Michelle both were, only as recently as Tuesday for “Blue Valentine.” 

How did this happen? Well, I have two words for you “Fox Searchlight.” They were like a good  ole dog with a bone for their movie “Conviction.” Which also, BTW, pretty much tanked at the Box-Office. But they still got Swank that startling nomination. They KNOW how to run an Oscar Campaign. Oh boy, do they!

HOWEVER, Michelle and Ryan have behind them, what Colin and Geoffrey and Helena have behind them, and it’s Harvey Weinstein, their producer, of the Weinstein Co., who REALLY knows how to run an Oscar campaign ~ and win it!

Recently, who got Kate Winslet her Oscar for “The Reader”? Harvey did. And who got Penelope Cruz her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in the same year? Harvey.

So don’t be surprised if Michelle and Ryan pop back into the picture come Oscar Nomination Day. Harvey Weinstein sees all this as a challenge, you betcha. And he’s more than up to it.

But “The King’s Speech” leading BOTH the SAG nominations AND the Golden Globes means that it is much loved.

The film who’s name I will not mention anymore, only got TWO puny nominations. And once again , Jesse Irritatingberg, the HeadacheMaker, is nominated for Best Actor. I just don’t get it.

And the SAGS were not buying what any of the Supporting Actor in That Film Whose Name I Will Not Mention were selling. All three of them cancelled each other out, I think. They split TFWNIWNM vote. And Justin Timberlake’s opening big as the voice of Boo Boo the Bear in “Yogi Bear” this exact week, is really “Norbit” all over again.

“Norbit” a critically reviled film starring Eddie Murphy came out just at the same time as the Academy was voting during the “Dreamgirl” year. I knew when I saw the posters for that plastered sky-high over Times Square with Murphy in a fat suit AND a bikini as a fat woman…I KNEW his Oscar hopes for “Dreamgirls” were doomed…And Alan Arkin won…

It’s also interesting to not that the SAG voters did also NOT nominate Michael Douglas in Supporting for “Wall Street 2” as the Globes did.

So the Supporting races are slightly more all over the place. With Geoffrey Rush and Christian Bale in for sure and those other three slots really up for grabs and surprises at the Oscars. I would say watch for Sam Rockwell to finally make an entrance here. And oh yes, then there’s that Mark Ruffalo character buzzing around like an irritating may fly for “The Kids Are All Right”. He was nominated for BOTH the Globes and the SAGS. He benefits from the good lesbian vibrations that “The Kids…” generates, but since he’s the token straight in the movie, it’s no sweat for the straight guys in SAG to vote for him.

You have to remember, dear readers, dear cineastes, that the Hollywood Foreign Press and the Screen Actors Guild are two WIDELY different groups of people. There’s no overlap whatsoever.  Hence the differences…

And if you want to read a real breakdown of all of this seasonal nonsense we drive ourselves crazy over, check out www.ScottFeinberg.com

He’s got it allllll down statistically.

And no Jackie Weaver in Supporting Actress!!! She, who defied the odds and won so many critics awards, out of nowhere, really. Well the SAG actors  didn’t buy her performance as anything speciall and left her out.

They DID include in her place young Hallie Stanfield(sp?) for “True Grit” who was NOT nominated for the Golden Globes. Or course, “True Grit” was completley shut out of the Golden Globes. That’s what  Paramount gets for not getting me into a screening! You see, I STILL haven’t seen it!

Golden Globe Nominations! King’s Speech leads with 7!!!

Very gratified to report that the wonderful “King’s Speech” which I have been championing ever since I saw it at its’ first press screening at Toronto received seven Golden Globe nominations this morning. More than any other film, and that usually means it’s going to win!

It was nominated for Best Film -Drama, Best Actor, the wonderful Colin Firth, Best Supporting Actor, Geoffrey Rush, Best Supporting Actress, Helena Bonham-Carter, Best Director, Tom Hooper(who named me “The Oscar Messenger” after all, LOVE him!), Best Screenplay and Best Score.

Congratulations to Colin, Geoffrey, Helena, Tom and to Harvey Weinstein who produced all this magnificence.

Yesterday that OTHER FILM, whom I will not mention by name any more, won all the critics’ awards across the country, and today, “The King’s Speech” is on top!

Also nominated for Best Actor -Drama was Ryan Gosling, whom I just interviewed for “Blue Valentine.” That is going to be up on YouTube shortly and Best Actress-Drama- Michelle Williams for the same moving film, whom I also interviewed. And she’ll be coming soon, too. www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

Omissions~ They left  out a LOT of possible contenders like Jeff Bridges, and Hailee Stanfield from “True Grit”. In fact, “True Grit” (which I STILL haven’t seen) was shut out completely. And Danny Boyle for Director and “127 Hours” were not nominated, though its’ star James Franco was. Franco was expected. The shut out of “127 Hours” and Boyle were not. Nothing for Robert Duvall in “Get Low.” Nothing for “True Grit” other than the despised Jennifer Lawrence’s expected but undeserved nomination. Will somebody please put a stop to that woman! Her adulation in that faux-Ozarkian indie is incomprehensible to me.

And Leonardo Di Caprio was left out ~ TWICE! For “Shutter Island” AND for “Inception” Yikes! Methinks this was not category confusion but actual, for real, MOVIE confusion. There were astounding similarities in the plots of both movies. And certainly Leo’s characters.  So Leo got left out twice, but Johnny Depp was nominated TWICE for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical. For “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Tourist.” BOTH Annette Bening and Julianne Moore were nominated for “The Kids Are All Right” in the Musical/Comedy Best Actress category.

And sadly “Another Year” was nowhere to be seen. No Mike Leigh. No Leslie Manville. And also no Noomi Rapace for “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.” Sadly.

IN were Jackie Weaver for “Animal Kingdom.”!!! And Mila Kunis, and NOT Barbara Hersey for “The Black Swan.”  I think the Academy will correct that. And switch the two. This is for Best Supporting Actress, and as I predicted BOTH Melissa Leo and Amy Adams got in for “The Fighter” and they will cancel each other out, leaving the way for her Royal Highness Helena Bonham-Carter to win here. And at the Oscars, too, I’m betting.

And Michael Douglas DOES go supporting as Peggy Siegel told me he would, also back in Toronto. For “Wall Street 2” which I enjoyed immensely. And NO Mark Ruffalo for “The Kids Are All Right” though it scored big everywhere else and won him a Best Supporting Actor nod from the New York Film Critics. So Douglas is IN. Ruffalo is now OUT?

After “The King’s Speech”, came “The Fighter” with six nominations, as I predicted. And THAT OThER MOVIE also got six. Best Foreign Film nominations included Tilda Swinton’s “I Am Love.”

These nominations HELP all those nominated, but hurt the ones unexpectedly left out, like “True Grit” and “Another Year.”

For the complete list, see www.awardsdaily.com

Read “The Girl Who Played With Fire”WOWOWOW!

I just found this lost draft! So for those you can’t get enough Noomi, here it is ~ again ~ sort of. I thought the machinery had deleted this…but…it didn’t! And Noomi was just shocking nominated for Best Actress for the Critic’s Choice Awards ~ which is also called the Broadcast Film Critics in some places…

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Stieg Larsson has sort of co-opted my life. At least for the past few weeks. What with interviewing Noomi Rapace, Lisbeth Salander herself about ten days ago, and having her go up on You Tube in all her glory, I plunged into Book Two of the Millenial Trilogy and finished it all in one big hungry gulp this weekend.

Once again, I couldn’t put it down! I couldn’t believe it! I had thought the middle book would be somehow less absorbing than the first and last one’s. But I was delighted to find I was totally wrong!

It was just as absorbing as the first one, if not more so.

Lisbeth Salander is front and center in Book 2, “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and she is the one every one is after and is trying to kill. She’s at the center of many mysteries, only unraveld in the very last pages. I guess I won’t spoil it for the rest of you Johnny-Come-Latelys who may have only stumbled on to this brilliant Swedish series of crime novels, but the books are doozies.

I don’t know when I’ve been so compelled. Larsson really pulled it off on a great, grand scale. And Lisbeth Salander goes from the interesing, eccentric side-kick of Mikael Blomkvist, investigative journalist and ordinary het guy, to being the central character of this gripping yarn.

I always wished the late Patricia Highsmith were still alive today to scare us even more with her “Talented Mr. Ripley” series, but she’s gone. Only achieving her greatest fame after her death. And the same is true of Larsson, who died before these amazing books of his were published. Soooo sad….

So I’ve seen the last movie in a theater, “The Girl Who Kicked Over the Hornet’s Nest” and I just watched “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” over again on a DVD from the New York Public Library. This one played all the way through. The first disc I got from them of “Dragon” was corrupted and missing a whole lengthy section in the middle.

I told the library this and they immediately put me in line for reserving another one and it came this weekend, too.

And after interviewing Noomi….What a little sweetheart! And sooo different from her scary, stern Salander…And what a great job of film acting. The close-ups on her pitch black eyes….are soooo frightening, yet transfixing. Powerful.

Although she wears punked out clothes to the max, black leather jackets, the piercings, the tattoos, etc, it’s her intense inner life that fascinates. 

I shudder  to think what David Fincher is going to do with this series of terrific movies, which he’s re-making right now, even as I type. WithRooney Mara. Who is a very good strong intelligent actress…who made such a strong impression in “The Social Network” as the only woman…

Sweden is SUCH a strong character in the books and in these films. It makes you want to go there. I even felt the urge to start studying Swedish…

It seems it’s been re-set in America. I can’t imagine any American locale subsituting adequately for fascinating Sweden. I just can’t. Fincher’s good with creepazoid atmospherics as he proved in “Se7en” and especially “Zodiac.” I think his version will resemble “Zodiac” which was set in San Francisco and is probably his strongest film to date. Or at least the one I liked the most…

San Francisco never seemed more threatening…

But rent or buy the books or see the movies! I hope Music Box entertainment is sending out all three movies to the Academy.

I still haven’t seen the movie of “The Girl Who Played with Fire” but just having spent a weekend totally gripped by its’ powerful spell…I can’t recommend it highly enough.

I guess I am a bit of mystery/suspense/crime buff myself. My favorite director is Alfred Hitchcock.l have relished his classic films over and over again…Maybe Fincher will surprise me. And the world. He BETTER!

And I felt such a deep connection with Noomi Rapace. It was a beautiful thing. I hope she goes on to win every award in the book. She’s already picked up quite a few.

She’s needs to be in L.A. and going to every party under the sun there. Marcia Gay Harden did that and she won for “Pollack.” Marion Cotillard just MOVED there for all intents and purposes, during the voting period. And Noomi, since she’s new, and foreign, though she speaks perfect English as you can see in my interview with her which is now in the MainFrame at www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow.

Now I can’t wait for Episode 2, the movie of “The Girl Who Played With Fire” to arrive from the NYPL. What an achievement for all concerned!

And Noomi Rapace! Her Lisbeth Salander is one of the great screen performances.

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