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!