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!

IMHO.

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:

1961-Fanny

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,

Thelma

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!

http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/movieawards/oscars/2011-02-25-1Aoscar25_CV_N.htm

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” ~

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/blogs/race/why-anti-pimp-helena-bonham-100373

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!”

I LOVE THIS MAN!

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!

Geoffrey Rush’s Master Class @ the DGA in NYC

I was absolutely delighted to be invited to attend a very special evening with  Academy Award Nominee Geoffrey Rush this past week.

It was held at the DGA theater and it was PACKED!  The lines were around the block and I think they turned over 300 people away! I didn’t know Geoffrey Rush was so popular.

This event was made even more exciting because  hours before in Blighty, Geoffrey Rush had just beaten Christian Bale to win the BAFTA award for Best Supporting Actor for “The King’s Speech.” And here he was spending the night talking Acting with us. That’s Acting with a very Capital A.

 Taking a break on his off night from his play “Diary of a Madman” which is now playing at BAM, Rush held the crowd in the absolute palm of his hand for nearly two hours as he proved himself a master speaker on the Art of Acting as well as a Master Actor himself. It was a Master Class indeed.

Rush’s biggest obstacle to winning his second Oscar this year for “The King’s Speech” for Best Supporting Actor is his own previous Oscar win for playing Australian pianist David Helfgott in “Shine.” 

Another obstacle is the immensely popular and impressive performance of Christian Bale, also nominated in the same category for “The Fighter.”

Ah! But Geoffrey has the best film of the year “The King’s Speech” as the wind billowing beneath his sails, blowing him steadily towards Oscar for the Second Time. He also has the Oscar Legend himself, Harvey Weinstein tirelessly trying to help him bring home the gold. Rush has had four Oscar nominations including this one and has the unique honor of being of the few, the very few to have won an Oscar, an Emmy AND a Tony!

If Rush WERE to win a Second Oscar it would be the first time in Oscar history that an Australian actor won a second Oscar, both times playing Australians. And Geoffrey Rush is very, very proud of this.

Geoffrey Rush is nothing if not a national spokesperson for the Australian acting community. He makes a point at the beginning of the evening that he was the first Australian to ever win an Oscar. And that Cate, Nicole and Russell Crowe were all following in his footsteps, and he admitted to being hurt when the press neglects to mention this fact, which to him is a matter of great personal, as well as national, pride.

“The King’s Speech” continues that strain of nationalism, by finding Rush once again playing an Australian, a historical figure that actually did exist~ Lionel Logue, who, it can be said, may have single-handedly saved the monarchy.

Logue, a rather controversial and at the same time little known speech therapist, was sought out by the Duchess of York, superbly embodied by Helena Bonham Carter, in the multi-Oscar nominated film, which has made over $100 million at the box-office, and is expected to sweep the Oscars a week from tomorrow on Sunday, Feb.27.

“The King’s Speech” has cast a very bright light on what was heretofore a deep, dark Royal secret that the eventual King George VI needed the help, the almost constant help of this Australian speech therapist to get over his crippling stammer and effectively lead his country and the free world during World War II.

It’s an heartfelt, moving story, magnificently told and Rush is as unforgettable as Lionel Logue as Colin Firth is as the stuttering King. It’s an acting feast for the ages to see these two great actors go toe to toe in a stunning double tour-de-force.

And Rush is very proud of this film and here he was on his off night from “Diary of a Madman” doing his best to KEEP “The King’s Speech” front and center in every actor in New York’s mind. Also, this great film would not have existed without him. He is also the executive producer.

How was he doing this? Well, this was an absolute joy to him. And his zeal for his country and its’ artists was as great as his love of his art. The event was co-sponsored by the Actor’s Studio, a place where there are many Academy voters concentrated and also many acting students from Pace University in Lower Manhattan, with which the Studio is affiliated. And they were there in force.

It was a splendid evening which began with Rush getting a standing ovation for just mounting the stage from the audience. Rush is currently sporting a shaved-bald head for “Mad Man” and he was wearing what looked like a golfing cap.

Geoffrey Rush is very much a man of the people and he gave fully of himself in this overwhelming two-hour event  celebrating his long career in films.

He started by pointing out that he had nearly 20 years or more as an Australian stage actor under his belt before he got his “big break” in “Shine” in 1996 at age 46. “Shine” catapulted him an unknown Australian character actor to international stardom and a Best Actor Oscar. And a film career that has never stopped and a stage career that he continues because he loves acting in front of a live audience.

He kept emphasizing how improbable his road to film stardom was and how even now he is humbled and more or less astounded by the staggering amount and the wide variety of films he has made since “Shine.”

Rush just received the Montecito Award at the Santa Barbara film festival a few weeks back, and the stunning montage of clips that began the evening were being shown in New York, courtesy of the Santa Barbara Film Festival. The festival was also responsible for assembling the wide variety of clips from Rush’s staggering number of films, many of which were new to me.

Rush kept referring to this series of clips, as did the moderater from the New York Daily News. And  one of the reasons for his incredible sang froid and energy propelling the evening forward was that basically he was re-enacting what was pretty much the same questions and anecdotes that he had recounted at Santa Barbara, but to his New York audience it was all incredible acting catnip. They ate him up with a spoon and applauded and laughed  and cheered rather constantly.

It was QUITE a celebration! And the clips of the many, many films he has done showed his incredible range very, very completely. I was actually stunned by much of the footage, a lot of it new to me and never once did Rush seem to duplicate a performance or repeat himself. I could have listened to him all night. He is an indelible original and a great, great actor.

When they finally got around to “The King’s Speech,” which ended the evening, Rush was even more passionate and eloquent than he had been all throughout this great presentation.

What had working with Colin Firth in his now legendary performance of the challenged King taught him? Rush was asked.

And he said, “The Silences. His greatest acting was in the silences as he struggled to get out whatever words he was trying to say.”

“I knew that acting was all about listening,” Rush said, “but he made me REALLY listen. I went from acting-listening, to REALLY listening. That’s why the dynamic is so great between us.”

And those painful silences as Firth struggles heartbreakingly to speak even the simplest sentences, took my breath away once again when I saw “The King’s Speech” again yesterday for the second time, but this time with a real honest-to-goodness audience of paying customers in New York. And they were as spell-bound as I was. You could hear a pin drop. And they, just an average New York movie-going audience applauded at the end. This was in a MULTI-PLEX! This NEVER happens! I think the Academy is going to throw every award its got at “The King’s Speech.”

But I digress…

Back to Colin Firth…and his performance of a life-time.

Firth made them listen the way he made Rush listen. I’ll never forget it. I’m getting chills just thinking about the magnificence of Firth and Rush’s and also Bonham Carter’s and director Tom Hooper’s great cinematic achievement.

It’s a masterpiece of a film and Geoffrey Rush is a Master Actor. How lucky we all were to be present at this great historic event. Who knows? There may have even been enough Academy voters present to tip the scales in this tightest of Oscar races between Rush and Bale.

Gentlemen, the envelope, please!

On seeing “King’s Speech” again, Helena & Colin totally rule the screen

It’s suddenly spring in New York City, after a horribly snowy winter, which probably isn’t completely over yet, SUDDENLY we’re having a day in the mid-50s temperature-wise! You don’t even need a coat today!

Well, spring was certainly in my step when I decided to see a 10:25AM screening of “The King’s Speech” which I hadn’t seen since that first early 9AM screening. The first press screening on the first day of TIFF’10, this past September. I knew it was probably going to be very, very good. I mean, it had Harvey Weinstein behind it, and that star-studded British cast.

I just wasn’t ready to have my mind totally blown by the quiet brilliance of this masterful film. Which I  instinctually knew was an instant classic. And that Colin Firth’s performance was one of the greatest ones I would ever seen on-screen. His stuttering, reluctant King George VI is one of the great screen performances, and has been hailed as such with Firth winning every single Best Actor award on his way to the Oscar podium.

I had the privilege of being of being the first one to broach the Big O news to Colin Firth himself, AND Geoffrey Rush AND director Tom Hooper, that beastly hot September morn in Toronto. And you can see their more than startled reactions at www.youtube.com/StephenHoltSHow

On seeing it a second time so early in the morning, I wanted to make sure that I saw it with an attentive, quiet audience. Who laughed at the appropriate moments, and were crying at the end. Just like they did in Toronto. And this half-full, respectful audience applauded at the end, just like they did in Toronto. I stayed spell-bound, just like I had in Toronto, all through the end credits and the lovely Alexander Desplat piano melodies. I remember that TIFF audience of hardened critics were all spell-bound, too. It’s like they were rooted in their chairs, totally blown away by the simplicity and beauty of what they had just seen. Nobody left at TIFF, til the end credits were finished. Then there was thunderous applause. We had seen the best film of this year or any year. We had seen a mastepiece.

All great films are their own miracles. And I have to say that if you want to really enjoy evenings in this month TMC’s “31 Days of Oscar” is just one wonderful night of cinema after the other. I’ve seen “The Heiress,” “Mrs. Miniver”, “Forrest Gump”, “Marty”, “Gone With the Wind” and “Twelve Angry Men” in just the past 10 days! Magnificent films, all.

And “The King’s Speech” is right up there with them. Seeing Colin Firth’s utterly brilliant performance again, this time I was even more astounded at the levels of pain he reached. Every time that poor man had to open his mouth and say something,  the inner torment, the hell that man expressed each time he had to utter even the most mundane and simple of declarative sentences was shattering.

His George VI is coming unglued in nearly every scene. And Tom Hooper’s direction is equally masterful. Always capturing the era(the 1930s) as if it was a doc happening right before your eyes today.

When Colin Firth ended our career-high interview(for me anyway…He kept saying “I don’t want you to leave. I just don’t want you to leave.” But alas I had to…) he stood up to shake my hand and I was astonished that he was a strapping 6’3″.

You see Tom Hooper and his excellent cinematographer always framed Colin to look short and small, which the real King George VI was, and Colin Firth, the man, isn’t at all.

This time I saw how he was always seated in ill-fitting chairs. The wide-angle lens Hooper uses makes this handsome man as plain and ungainly and painful to look at as possible.He is always shot looking out of place. Even in the most comfortable of surroundings, he is uncomfortable. He is always framed alone in very large, empty,slightly distorted spaces. He is trapped in the royal fish bowl, and he can’t get out of it. And only Helena Bonham Carter’s sweet supportive Queen Elizabeth penetrates those spaces.

Bonham Carter’s performance as the Queen just totally jumped off the screen at me this time. I was able to gauge her silences and the painful look in her large dark saucer eyes much more carefully. This is a portrait of a happy marriage made painful only by circumstance and the husband’s disability. The love between the two is palpable, and magnificently rendered by Bonham Carter.

The first section of the film is entirely hers, as she strikes out on her own, to find just the right Speech Therapist, for her beleaguered husband, then only the Duke of York. And simply a royal prince, who was never brought up to be the king.

Bonham Carter’s opening scenes are just a delight as she proceeds to a part of London she never in a million years felt that she would ever find herself in. Even her struggles with a lift(British elevator)’s caged door gates becomes a moment of hilarious business, and then it doesn’t go up. It descends to the basement. Which is where Logue’s apartments are. Or the scene as when she passes her husband off  to Logue as “Mr. Johnson,” a banker who has to give public speeches.

The second viewing just made me gasp at how strong her performance really is and how she does stand up in her own quiet way to the demands of the role of the ultimate supportive wife. And certainly the category of Best Supporting Actress is made for this sort of  classic turn.

She does not chew the scenery. She does not overact or over-react. Her calibration, guided by Hooper’s gentle, subtle directorial hand, is superb. And very, very moving. The last scene when the King actually has to do “The Speech” of the title of the movie, keeps cutting back to her, with her young daughter Elizabeth at her side, listening, her wide-dark eyes, pools of concern, and love and pain, and finally she is subtlely moved to tears,or  more accurately a single, beautiful tear as her husband rallies his country to war against the Nazis.

Her one tear reduces all the audience to tears, too.

And Kings and Queens, especially such sympathetic, heroic ones as these two, win our hearts and usually Oscars, too.

And Geoffrey Rush? He deserves his own separate piece – coming soon.

Why Lauren Bacall thinks she lost her Oscar to Juliette Binoche

An interesting Oscar fact, prompted by Lauren Bacall’s large Vanity Fair interview and profile, in their Hollywood Issue (a must-have, must-read) abutting in the same issue an equally large and in depth piece on Harvey Weinstein.

Now, what has this got to do with this year’s Oscar race? More than you might think.

Lauren Bacall in her memoir goes on and on about how Harvey Weinstein cost her last chance at a legitimate Oscar when she was nominated in 1996 for Best Supporting Actress for “The Mirror Has Two Faces,” directed by Barbra Streisand, who also starred. Bacall played her mother. Bacall just received a career Oscar this past year, but it’s not the same thing. Nice, but no cigar.

That was the year that Juliette Binoche upset everyone’s Oscar predictions, including mine. There weren’t so many Oscarologists as there are today, but I WAS doing it on my TV show even way back then.  Tom O’Neill’s Gold Derby was racing, but not many others….

You see  Bacall, the great Hollywood legend, WON the Golden Globe and then the SAG Award, and seemed absolutely unstoppable, and she, shockingly,  LOST to Juliette Binoche, in the “English Patient.”

Why is this suddenly sounding VERY familiar? Well, Melissa Leo won both those awards also(There was no BFCA in those days.) and now she’s up against, in the same category, an actress in a British film. That would be Helen Bonham Carter in “The King’s Speech.” And yes, that’s Harvey’s film, too.

“The English Patient” swept the awards as “The King’s Speech” is expected to.  And it could very well sweep Helena B-C, in too…Harvey has a unique way with that category, Best Supporting Actress. I think he’s gotten more actresses that particular award than any other producer in recent memory. Besides Binoche, he got Renee Zellweger her only Oscar in that category for “Cold Mountain” in 2004 and also Catherine Zeta-Jones in that category for “Chicago” in 2003! Why do I feel Harvey W. rules this category?

As Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone always muses…Just, saying….

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