a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for February, 2011

Oscar Day!

It’s been quite an Awards season! Hasn’t it, dear readers, dear cineastes? The birth of this blog has conincided almost exactly with Oscar season, which began for all intents and purposes at that very first press screening of “The King’s Speech,” which I keep referring back to, at TIFF at 9AM at the Scotia Bank mulitplex of cinemas in Toronto. There was a brisk wind. I’m used to MUCH warmer weather at TIFF usually, but that morning in was definately a bit chilly.

I am proud to say that having gotten up at 6AM that morning(!!!) I managed to be the first person in line to see “The King’s Speech.” Little did I know what an incredible cinematic experience I was in for!

I didn’t think I’d make it in. The line seemed longer than imaginable, even at that early hour. But HALF the queque broke off and went in to see “Black Swan” which was also kicking off at that sadistically (for a  night owl critic such as myself) early hour. So they were effectively the first two important, high-profile films that were screening FIRST at TIFF.

It was almost an entirely male contingent that hurried off and went to see “Black Swan.” And a mixed group of men and women stayed true to “The King’s Speech.” But I was the first one on line to get in! I was thrilled then, and I’m still thrilled now, typing this SIX months later.

I had no idea what was coming,but of course, I knew it would be GOOD. I didn’t know it would be one of the best films of ALL TIME!


So the Oscar race effectively began and ended that morning, with that screening, the only press screening “The King’s Speech” was going to have at TIFF. Which was a little unusual I thought. But then that’s Harvey W. for you. Creating a heightened experience for all those jamming in to see it.

There were public screenings of course, and a Gala, too, at Roy Thompson Hall, if memory serves, but I didn’t need to see it again. I was so profoundly moved, so infinitely affected by its’ surprisingly moving story.

And then I had the great good fortune to race uptown on the Toronto subway and be the first one to tell Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and its young director Tom Hooper that they were all on their way to the Oscars.

They were stunned, to put it mildly. And Tom Hooper named me their Oscar Messenger and the name stuck.

The morning was brisk, but by the time I came out, the sun was really beating down and I remember how extremely hot and airless that hotel hallway where I was waiting to get it to each of the three men’s interview rooms was.

That hallway was where I first met Dave Karger and also Peggy Siegel.

I got into Geoffrey first, then Tom, then Colin. You can see my encounters with them at www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

Incredibly exciting, to put it mildly.

And I also remember thinking, as the film ended, and people were crying and applauding, and an audience of critics were NOT GETTING UP FROM THEIR SEATS TO LEAVE!?!?! They stayed through ALLLL the end credits!! That never happens at TIFF where everyone is always running to the next screening, usually WAAAAAY across town….They were all experiencing shock AND awe. The Oscar race began and ended with TIFF’s FIRST PRESS Screening! Way to go, TIFF programmers! History was made! Again! At TIFF!

I thought “How is any film going to top this for Oscar?” And of course, none has. And none will.

Nominated for 12 Oscars more than any other film this year, and also putting in the ranking of one of the most nominated films of all time as CBS’ 60 minutes pointed out this past Sunday, I think it COULD win everything. And I hope it does!

An interesting side-note, journos were as usual, skipping the director, Tom Hooper  and just doing non-stop interviews with Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth. So if Tom seems fresher and not at all  hoarse, that’s why. And people were skipping him, and here he was, a completely unknown (almost) new young director and now he’s won the DGA and many predict him to beat David Fincher for “The Joy of Typing”

And I also thought that Tom’s anonymity was his biggest Oscar stumbling block. And as a first time nominee, it still sort of is. And Geoffrey Rush’s biggest obstacle was that he had already WON an Oscar for “Shine”. 14 years ago, but still…

But there was NOTHING standing in the way of Colin Firth’s great march to the podium, as I told him, and he was shocked.

And nothing is. He’s the odds on favorite. Still. Across the board. No one can touch him.

I can’t wait any longer!

Gentlemen, the envelope PLEASE!

Oscar Day Present to my readers from Editing Legend Thelma Schoonmaker

Tomorrow is Oscar Day, dear readers, dear cineastes, and so I thought it only apropos, instead of going all over the Oscar predictions ad nauseam. You all know where I stand. It’s “King’s Speech” all the way, or just part of the way. And I predict it will upset in Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, AND Best Supporting Actress….

But I digress, so I wanted to do something a little special. So here’s a very nice thoughtful note from that most modest of three-time Oscar winners, Editing Legend Thelma Schoonmaker.

They have this wonderful event now in New York, coming up again in June, called Editfest, which is a two-day film festival of sorts for film editors. I was wildly interesting to me, as someone, who with my TV show, is basically dealing with editors on a day-to-day basis.

So I thought you’d like to hear a tiny touch of Thelma’s thoughtfulness. We had a conference call-interview, and I said to her that “You are the most Oscar-winning of Film Editors.” And Thelma didn’t think she was. But SHE is.

She’s tied with others, mainly men for winning three Oscars each. She’s got six nominations. And she sent me this lovely list of who won what and when.

I think she’s actually the most-heavily Oscared LIVING Film Editor. Of course, for film editing Martin Scorcese’s great ones.

Well, here as an Oscar day treat, is Thelma speaking in her own quiet, reserved voice, sending me a researched list I never asked for, but was thrilled to receive. I’ve held it back for a special occasion. So here it is.

“For the man who asked whether I had won more Oscars than other editors, here is the information:

RALPH DAWSON won 3 Oscars

1935-A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream

1936- Anthony Adverse

1938- The Adventures of Robin Hood

DAVID MANDELL won 3 Oscars for:

1942- The Pride of the Yankees

1946- The Best Years of Our Lives

1960-The Apartment

BARBARA Mc Lean had 7 Oscar nominations

and won One Oscar as follows:

1935-Les Miserable

1936-Lloyds of London

1938-Alexander’s Ragtime Band

1939-The Rains Came

1943- The Song of Bernadette

1944- Wilson(won an Oscar for this)*

1950-All About Eve

William Reynolds had 7 Oscar nominations and won 2 Oscars as follows:


1965-The Sound of Music(won an Oscar for this)*

1966-Sand Pebbles

1969- Hello Dolly!

1972- The Godfather (with Peter Zimmer)

1973- The Sting(won an Oscar for this)*

1977-The Turning Point.

I have had six nominations.

Many thanks,


And here’s the films Thelma received nominations and Oscars for – 1970 – Woodstock,

1980-Raging Bull(won), 1990 (Good Fellas), 2002(Gangs of New York), 2004, The Aviator(won), 2006(The Departed)

So with her three wins, and six nominations Thelma Schoonmaker is right up there tied with the Film Editing Oscar greats. Now she just needs one more win, and god bless her, I hope she gets another one, and she’ll be the most Oscar winning-est Film Editor of all time.

Thank you, Thelma, for going to all this trouble, and CONGRATULATIONS! And many more of the same, I’m so sure! Happy Oscars!

I Make the Big Time! USA Today quotes me on Oscar & “The King’s Speech”!!!

Just when I thought there was no more Oscar news to report, SUDDENLY I’m being quoted as an Oscar expert in USA Today by Susan Wloszcyna. It’s pronounced Woz -zeen- ya, I think. She’s their hard working film critic, and she written a pretty definitive piece on this year’s race and she starts it off by quoting ME! Yikes! Great day in the morning! Read it! NOW!


Oscar Voting Closes;Massive “King’s Speech” Landslide Coming Soon!

Well, it’s alllllmost over! One of the longest Oscar races in history. Although actually it isn’t. Last year had the Olympics to make it two to three weeks longer.

But the reality of The Race is that I personally feel (and this feeling is shared by NEARLY everybody) that The Race ended at Toronto at the VERY FIRST PRESS SCREENING of the Festival. TIFF started and so did the Oscar race with the BANG! of the first unspooling of “The King’s Speech.”

I realized as I sat there with the stunned audience of hardened TIFF-goers that we had seen the Best Film Of the Year. ALREADY! BANG! right out of the gate. It was like a cinematic miracle had occurred. People were crying, and laughing, in all the right places and critics sat frozen watching the end credits roll ALL THE WAY THROUGH. And then there was applause.

There’s always applause at the end of “The King’s Speech.”

Having seen a rather OK BBC version of this same story with James Wilby, who was perfectly fine as the stuttering King, but he didn’t break your heart the way Colin Firth does, and did. Over and over. Throughout this whole movie. The pain. The silences. And fright that man experiences.

A king is a terrible thing to be, is the movie’s motto, I guess. When you don’t want it. And feel you can’t do it…His wife believes in him. And I believe the Academy voters believe in her, too. The most beloved historical figure England produced in the 20th century. The Queen Mum. Who STAYED IN LONDON DURING THE BLITZ!!!!!!!!

People still talk of that courageous act, today. As the Queen Mum is always shown in newsreel footage of WWII tip-toeing gingerly through the rubble of the East End with the King following behind her.

Aw, “The King’s Speech” is going to win everything.! The question is HOW MANY?!? 12? It’s nominated for 12. And I just think the Academy is on a mission this year. They want to send a message to the world loud and clear. WE LIKE MOVIES LIKE THIS ONE! And we want to make more movies like this! Inspirational, moving, unforgettable. I think it’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen or will ever likely see.

And so I’m predicting it will win everything it’s nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor(Geoffrey Rush) Best Supporting Actress(Helena Bonham Carter), Best Director Tom Hooper, Best Original Screenplay (David Seidler), Best Score(Alexander Desplat), Best Costumes(Jenny Beaven) and on and on and on.

Oh, and in Best Actress…It’s still Natalie Portman.

Last minute heebie -jeebies in this category are not going to unseat the beautiful young girl who gives the performance of her lifetime in “Black Swan” that is the very pregnant Miss Portman.

She didn’t make it across the Pond in her heightened state to receive her BAFTA win, but she did win it over Annette, who’s a lovely lady…but Natalie, there’s no stopping Natalie, and it’s the only win Fox Searchlight may get with that film. But it’s a big one.

So them’s my predictions pard’ner, and I’m sticking to ’em.

Fun fact: Since the BAFTAs moved their date forward to precede Oscar, the category that has matched Oscars 80% of the time is, you guessed, that hard to define, always mettlesome, Best Supporting Actress.

Oh, and Stu Van Airsdale has a FAAAAABulous summation of his Movieline graphs at www.movieline.com

And yes, “The King’s Speech” was filmed (in part) on a gay porno set. It’s been confirmed. WHO CARES?! That would be Lionel Logue’s offices, the one’s with the mottled, decaying, unmistakable backdrop. Makes me like it even more! This is just been revealed TODAY! And watch it wins Best Set Design!

Peter Knegt of Indiewire now goes for Helena Bonham Carter, too!

The astute youngest Oscar predictor amongst us  (pronounced “connect” , and he does!) at www.indiewire.com now goes out on the same limb that his colleague at Indiewire Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood and I are out on. That Helen Bonham Carter is going to split the difference between the two fighting” Fighter” nominees Amy Adams and the controversial Melissa Leo to  trounce tween queen Hailee Steinfeld and get that little golden guy in the Supporting Actress category.

There’s lots of last minute campaigning, or there WAS. The voting closed yesterday at 5pm PST. Annette Bening was SUDDENLY every-where at the 11th hour hoping her discrete presence at all kinds of events in LALAland would stem the Natalie Portman tide.

I keep hearing that older women in the Academy did not like “Black Swan” but of course, the MEN all did. And who is the dominant voting block when all is said and done? The SWORM, the straight white old rich men. Or the Meat Eaters as Anne Thompson calls them.

But suddenly the Best Actress race seems as up in the air as the supporting actress was, and still is. Ladies, ladies! Mes filles! Mes filles! But is Annette’s sudden change of campaiging strategy too little too late?

Movieline, they of the wonderful graphs, have them TIED!?!? Robert Osborn of TCM is predicting Annette and so is Pete Hammond, in several must-read Oscar articles at Nicki Finke’s www.deadlinehollywood.com Just look for Oscars and all those articles are Pete.

He and Anne Thompson are really out every night going from one Oscar party to the other in  LALA…New York is a veritable Oscar ghost town. Roger Friedman has just moved there. And Jeffrey Wells has gone back there.

Me? I’m staying stationary.

Le temps fait beau aujourd’hui…

Helena Bonham Carter “The Anti-Pimp” sez Hollywood Reporter

The Hollywood Reporter seems to have picked up on what Anne Thompson of Indiewire’s Thompson on Hollywood www.indiewire.com  and I (who have been saying this for ages) that Helena Bonham Carter’s chances for an upset are growing by the day in Hollyweird.

Here’s what they have to say, calling her “The Anti-Pimp” ~


This is, of course, in reference to Melissa Leo’s unfortunate phraseology of ” The Oscars are pimping yourself out” This phrase has now entered the Oscar Hall of Shame(or Fame, depending on if she wins or loses) But Helena Bonham Carter is definitely given her a run for her self-bought ad money.

And while we’re on the subject of the ever-more-boisterous Best Supporting Actress category 2011, just HOW many Supporting Actress Oscars has Harvey Weinstein won for his fillies in contention?

Let’s see there was Judi Dench, “Shakespeare in Love”, Juliette Binoche,”The English Patient”, Katherine Zeta Jones “Chicago” and Renee Zellweger “Cold Mountain.” That’s a HUGE number in that ever-unpredictable category.

So Helena’s got a kind of history behind her. Just saying….

Oscar segments on “King’s Speech” X2 on 60 Minutes!

Two marvelous segments on 60 minutes appeared just in time for an Oscar warm-up. One was on the actual show itself and one was on 6o minutes online. Both are now up on the Internet and can be viewed here ~http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/awards/2011/02/60-min-highlights-the-kings-speech.html

Stunning. And the film is introduced with “It is nominated for twelve Oscars making it among of the most nominated films of all time.”!!!

“It’s the film to beat on Oscar night.”

And you get to see Colin Firth’s childhood school and playground and hear he admits re: “Mama Mia” “I’m really just a drag queen!”


And if you STILL haven’t gotten enough of Colin, don’t forget my interview with him, at the Toronto Film Festival where I found to my astonishment that I was the first person to tell him, and Geoffrey Rush and Tom Hooper about the Oscar journey they were all about to go on. And I was right, wasn’t I? www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

When 60 minutes makes statements like this….Well…It sounds like they looked inside Oscar’s mailbag.  Something the highest security this side of Fort Knox would never allow…No way. No how, but you can’t avoid feeling the momentum.

The Voting Close tomorrow at 5pm PST. If you haven’t gotten your ballot in the mail, by now, Oscar voters…with all this President’s Day Postal Closures, it may not get there in time!

I think really most Academy Voters, knowing that they have to put their ballots in regular old snail mail pretty much fill them out immediately and then send them right back, so they can be sure they’ll be counted. If they arrive late, they are NOT counted, and Price, Waterhouse, Cooper does it all the old-fashioned way, BY HAND!!! That’s approximately 6000 ballots…!!!

This is the only way they can assure absolute secrecy!

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