a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for June, 2011

I see “Midnight in Paris” for the SIXTH time!!!

I can’t help myself! I can’t believe it! I never see movies more than once, usually, but SIX times! This amounts to an obsession. But a lovely one.

“Midnight in Paris” is so entrancing, so enthralling I keep going back to see it again and again and again. And again and again and again.

Why am I doing this???

As I bought my ticket yet again(also something I NEVER do, being a film critic, if I don’t see it at a press screening, I usually don’t catch up with it til it’s on DVD) and I was a little late, and I told the woman that that was Ok, because I’d already seen the movie five times. And she said “Is it THAT good?” Absolutely astonished.

Yes, it’s THAT good.

It’s also just not me who’s seeing it in this monumental terms. People all over the world and flocking, making it on track to be Woody Allen’s greatest grossing movie of all time, but also, perhaps, too, SONY PICTURES CLASSICS greatest grossing movie of all time.

And the Academy is certainly going to take notice of this, as I’ve said before.

Could it win Best Picture for Woody? Who hasn’t had a Best Picture win since “Annie Hall” way back in the deep, dark ’70s….

Could the Woodman score again?

With these numbers(and yes, I admit to driving them up, but if I’m going back to see it again and again, others must be, too) With this immense popularity(it’s playing in theaters a Woody Allen film has never played in. EVAH!) Oscar can’t really ignore it.

But more pertinently, what may it be up against in the final show down in November/December?

There’s Stephen Spielberg’s upcoming movie version of the Tony winning Best Play “War Horse” and there’s also David Fincher’s remake of the Swedish movie, a classic to some(me included) “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”

I think Woody’s feel good “Midnight” might actually beat these two, if it keeps going the way it’s going. And yes, it is STILL going.

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” was the other top grosser that Sony Pictures Classics has that “Midnight in Paris” has to unseat and it looks like it’s going to.

CTHD got nominated for Best Picture, too, that year, but didn’t win.

Frankly, it’s charms eluded me. I’m not that into Kung Fu, or whatever it was they were doing in that movie.

Though I liked the first Kung Fu Panda.

But “Midnight in Paris” is a delightful film. Delight. A very, very rare commodity these days. And charming. And well, even exceptionally acted.

Sony Pictures is going to do an Oscar campaign for leading actor Owen Wilson, and he just may score a nomination. Yes,even for a comedy. He shows Cary Grant-like chops in this movie. Sublime comic timing, and a character every one in the West Coast dominated Academy can relate to, a surfer dude-like sell-out.

Leading men who can carry a spritely comedy like this and pull it off so delightfully(there’s that word again) are rare, rare, rare in H’wood these days.

He’s made many,many movies. Has a multi-billion dollar franchise at Number One right now. “Cars Two” (and no, I’m not rushing to see it). So he’s everywhere this year.

But back to repeat showings. Rachel MacAdams’ family and she herself become more and more genuinely loathsome upon repeat viewings. And Marion Cotillard grows in beauty each time.

At one point, I think it’s the great Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein, who says in one of the pivotal scenes in the film, “She has one of the great faces” and she does.

Bates’ Stein is berating Picasso, who has painted a ridiculous abstract portrait of Adriana, Marion’s character, and says he has not grasped the essence of her beauty. She says in French that it is “plus subtle” and Picasso has made her look like “a whore in the Place Pigalle.”

Seeing “Midnight in Paris” so many times means it becomes like seeing an old friend. It’s comforting. It makes you happy, as good friends ought to do. And also a continued inspiration.

I just love it to pieces and I bet the Academy is going to, too.

All’s Well That Ends Well ~ Shakespeare’s worst?

All’s well doesn’t really end very well, or begin very well, or middle very well either. On a night when all New York homosexuals were celebrating the historic Gay Marriage victory on Gay Pride weekend, I’m stuck seeing this disappointing. frustrating muddle of a impossible play. Not happy.

“All’s Well That Ends Well” is a famous line and a great title but the buck stops there. I, an inveterate Bardolator, have never seen this play staged. Ever. And as I questioned other playgoers on that lovely summer night in Central Park where it was being performed in the equally lovely Delacorte theater, no one had seen it either. Yuck. No wonder this play is never done.

This premise is just unbelievable. And Daniel Sullivan, one of the great stage directors, we have in our midst, does not know WHAT to do with this mess of a play. So he creates an even bigger mess.

There’s a wordless, but beautiful ball scene in the very beginning of the evening, and the waltz that most of the supernumeraries do, is stunning. Elegant, peaceful, and a lie, since nothing in the succeeding production leaves up to this charming moment.

And Annie Parisse’s is no help. Said by all in the play to be a woman who is beyond admirable and by what in today’s terms would be phrased “charismatic”, she exhibits none of these qualities. And her emotional range stays the same as any forgettable TV actress, which evidently she was on “Law and Order.” “All’s Well That Ends Well” was such a boring disaster, it made me long for “Law and Order.”

And that’s not right the desired reaction, I presume.

But it shows, that,yes, even Shakespeare could write a bad play.

Even “Double Falsehood which was recently deemed part of the Canon (Shakespeare’s official ouevre), had moments, speeches of great intensity and poetry, that for sure felt Shakespearean. “All’s Well That Ends Well” has none.

It proved that, yes, Shakespeare, too, could be a Hollywood hack, were he alive today. He would  re-writes. He would re-cycle. He would do TV movies.

“All’s Well that End’s Well” recycles “Pericles” another one of Shakespeare’s worst. They call them “Problem Plays”, and it also re-uses much of “Winter’s Tale”(another problem) and “Much Ado About Nothing”, which is saved by the introduction of Beatrice and Benedict.

“All’s Well That Ends Well” is a Shakespearean garbage heap.

And the mediocre Annie Parrisse as a Shakespearean leading lady. No thank you very much.

My Provincetown Film Fest Wrap-Up Now up on Awardsdaily.com!

Dear Cineastes, dear readers, it can now be revealed! I was away at the wonderful Provincetown International Film Festival 2010! And you can read all about it on www.awardsdaily.com  “Is Oscar Listening?” Awardsdaily – best website on the web! IF you like Oscar 365 days a year, 24/7! And I do! And you do, too, or you wouldn’t be reading this blog, right?

I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack! Owen Wilson is rising…

Every now and then I just HAVE to take a break and be away from El Interneto. But then of course, one HAS to return! So here I am, baaaack to blogging and what’s new? What’s  been happening? As far as I’m concerned the big news is STILL Woody Allen’s lovely-beyond-words “Midnight in Paris” has now gone wider(means into more theaters) than any of his films ever have and of course, it’s making more money than any other of his films ever has. And will make more. And more.

And Oscar listens to that Ka-Ching.

And everyone is rising with the movie. Owen Wilson was on Jimmy Kimmel last night and was as charming and personable and FUNNY as ever. He’s also in “Cars 2” and that was proabably mainly WHY he was on Jimmy K.

Jimmy says he only got “65% of the in-jokes” meaning the literary and film references. Oh well…

But Jimmy even mentioned the “O” word(not Oprah) to Owen…Hey, it looked like the beginning of a campaign to moi…Just saying.

Second Half of Live-Blogging the Tonys!

9pm- The Second Half of the Tonys. They’ve hardly given out any awards and all the musical numbers have really, embarrassingly tanked. Oh, except Neil Patrick Harris’ Opening Number.

Best Featured Actress in a Musical! Nikki M. James! She’s hysterical crying!I am so THRILLED for her! She became a true star in that moment and this incredible, tearful speech!  The crowd! Goes! Wild! NOW SHE’s the WINNER of the night! Totally Surprised, she couldn’t stop crying! Very moving! I’m over the moon for her! I told her she would win! The Oscar messenger strikes again! You can go to see me telling her so  at www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

Andrew Rannells brings down the house with “Book of Mormon’s “I Believe!” a wise choice, because it’s just a solo, so no crowded chorus bumping into each other. Rannells was better tonight than he even was in the show! And they said “Fuck” at one point! And of course it got bleeped! But they said it! IOW, they did the show as it was actually performed. The Melissa Leo effect.

9:18 PM – Brooke Shields got bleeped ! John Larroquette! Wins Best Featured Actor in a Musical!

9:21 Now, Bono and the Edge. What are THEY going to do??? Bono “We used to be members U2” Yikes! They mention the NY Post! Michael Riedel must’ve just jumped through the roof of the press room! “We just wanted to keep the excitement level high at the New York Post!” Lolol…Longest intro of the night! They sound apologetic. OH NO! They are going to do a number from “Spiderman” Oy!…Boring…OMG! The number was as boring as their intro! I haven’t seen it yet, but that’s their best number? At least it was just a duet, so no stumbling. No bodies falling. That was a very bad song, not well done. Ugh! I’m not looking forward to seeing this monstrosity. “Inept” is what Michael Riedel kept saying on “TheaterTalk” and yes, that’s exactly what that number was…”If theWorld Should End” If only that song would end. Oh! It finally did.

My battery ran out.

But I’m back ~ 10:04 ~ “War Horse” just won Best Play. 😦

Wish a play with great PLAYWRITING in it had won…My Tony Predictors Scott Siegel and Sherry Eaker got this right on my TV show. We also got Best Revival of a Play, “Normal Heart” right. “The Motherfucker With A Hat” which hasn’t won anything so far, was robbed.

Larry Kramer moved me to tears with his beautiful SHORT speech. “Our day will come”….He really did the right thing. Short, sweet. Memorable. I’ll never forget it.

The musical numbers have been getting better.

10:11pm- “Anything Goes” probably just won the remaining awards with their concluding tap number that was very well done. Nobody bumped into each other.

But it’s now heading towards the 45 min. mark. Time left, I mean. I can’t believe I’m counting the time til it’s over.

Patina Miller shined it on with her choir of jiving and jumping nuns….They’ve really set up Sutton Foster to win…:( Still thinks she’s miscast as Reeno Sweeney, the bawdy barfly who’s the famous lead in “Anything Goes.” Ethel Merman haunts that role, those songs, those long-held notes. Patti Lu Pone was DIVINE in the ’80s revival at Lincoln Center, when it wasn’t THREE EFFING hours long, as it is now!

Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones just got a standing ovation. What are they doing here tonight? Oh, introducing an embarrassingly fast montage of scenes from EVERY SINGLE PLAY that opened on Broadway this year! Even “Elling”!?!?

10:24pm ~ Neil Patrick Harris does a VERY good rendition of “Company/Side by Side” with Patti LuPone, Stephen Colbert and Martha Plimpton in his chorus! Embarassing for Patti…

Best Revival of a Musical “Anything Goes” Boo! I enjoyed “How to Succeed” MUCH better. It was simply better done. “The truly magnificent Sutton Foster”…???? The passable, just OK Sutton Foster is more like it. Sheesh! Poor Patina!

Best Actress in a Play! Frances McDormand! In a jean jacket! I predicted this and so did Sherry Eaker. “I love my work!” No make-up a red-and-black striped dress under the jean jacket. I always heard she was a biker. This is her in her no bull-shit biker chick mode. She names and thanks every single member of her cast. Sincere. She burns a serious hole in the screen. Good for her. And she didn’t say “F**k” to do it, Melissa…

And Sutton Foster wins Best Actress, as expected and she reveals she’s going out with Bobby Cannavale! OMG! She breaks out crying thanking her dresser, “who’s leaving me” cries, sobs “AND IT’S A GOOD THING!” Well, if she’s with BC now…I’ll have to hold out hope for her, as an actress. I did totally like her in “The Drowsy Chaperone” and also “Young Frankenstein” but her Reeno Sweeny is more like Judy Moody.

God! What if it’s Bobby who wins Best Actor? As I predicted! Then they would be the first couple to win Tonys in the Same Night? Bobby has been right, front and center all night in the shots and cut-aways and he talked about “The Motherfucker with a Hat.” He’s a great actor. Period.

Paul Shaeffer of the David Letterman show introduced the original songstress of “It’s Raining Men” which he, I forgot, wrote. He comes out and this leads in to FINALLY a number from “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” which FINALLY won one award, Best Costumes, for the same two dazzling designed who won an Oscar for the same category.

Mark Rylance wins Best Actor in a Play. An incoherent speech about walking through walls.  Yuck. Sherry Eaker got this right, too! Bobby Cannavale and Al Pacino and Joe Mantello both lost to this jerk. Why? Why? Why? He’s not even the most famous person in this category. I guess his earlier performance in “La Bete” impressed the Tony Voters. That was earlier this season.

Norbert Leo Butz wins Best Actor in a Musical. Sherry Eaker and Scott Siegel BOTH got this right, too. Nice speech. Norbert’s second Tony. Also the second Tony in recent memory for Mark Rylance. Guess the Tonys just do NOT vote like the Oscar voters do, and take previous wins into account AGAINST the nominee. Like for instance, this year with Geoffrey Rush losing for “The King’s Speech” basically, I think, because he already won in the Best Actor category for “Shine!”

Chris Rock says that “Best Musical is like taking a hooker to dinner” LOLOL…Best line of the evening. Book of Mormon wins! Well, I got that one right. Josh Gad is nowhere to be seen.

It ran over by four minutes, according to my computer. See ya next year! I’m going away for awhile. Or rather next week! Give me the Oscars any day.

I’m Going to Live Blog the Tonys tonight!

I’m going to live Blog the Tonys tonight! I’ve never done this before! We’ll see how this works! Stay tuned! It starts at 8pm on CBS.

7:42pm ~ Waiting for the Tonys to start, CBS’ “60 Minutes” is re-running its’ excellent piece on “The King’s Speech” with a new intro saying that yes, The Picture, Colin Firth, Director Tom Hooper and Screenwriter David Seidler all did indeed go on to win Oscars!

What a lovely surprise!

7:52pm – The exit line is now Colin Firth and the film with its’ Oscar win “has reclaimed History.” Bravo!

7:54pm – Daniel Patrick Harris promo “You have the best in the house.No. *wink*smile* No, this is the best seat!” And he pats his ass! How gay is this going to be?

8:03pm-Answer ~ VERY GAY! Opening number Neil Patrick Harris “Broadway is not for Gays anymore!”

8:07 pm – Alex Baldwin announces the first award of the evening. Best Featured Actress in a Play. Ellen Barkin wins! Great performance! Well deserved! Her Broadway debut! Great that it starts off with the awards so quickly! Nice black dress. She thanks Larry Kramer! A bit overlong, but impassioned. She got the “Wrap it up sign.”

8:13pm- First number of the nominated Best Musicals “How to Succeed in Business…” with Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette, “The Brotherhood of Man.” It looks smushed on this small(er)stage. Did they bump into each other? The crowd goes wild, anyway.

8:30pm- John Benjamin Hickey wins for Best Featured Actor in a Play! Awesome moment! I met him in 1984 when he was a waiter! This is before he went to Juilliard, even. And now he thanks his partner on National TV! Congratulations John! I always knew you would win! His performance, and Ellen Barkin’s too, were unforgettably powerful in “Normal Heart.” He got short shrift with his speech. Ellen Barkin was sooo long it’s cut into the others’ running time! Yikes!

8:34pm ~ Norbert Leo Butz’ is leading “Catch Me If you Can”s chorus in a semi-rousing “Break the Rules” number. Again the stage looks small, too small for this. Why did they take it out of Radio City Music Hall where it FIT!?!

John Leguizamo’s excerpt from his one man show “Ghetto Clown” worked the best so far because, well, it was just HIM. Being funny.  This stage, the Beacon, is NEVER used for this sort of thing. So, a one-person show works the best so far…

8:42 – During the commercial breaks, they are giving out awards. Like Best Orchestras which went to “Book of Mormon” and Kathleen Marshall for “Anything Goes” Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker win Best Director for “Book of Morman”!!! South Park Rules! Scott Rudin is shown laughing and smiling when thanked. Trey thanks “South Park fans!”

“War Horse” wins Best Direction of a Play. Marianne Elliot and Tom Morris. This probably means that “War Horse” is going to win Best Play. Oh well…It’s not a good play…It’s a great spectacle. A great production…but the writing…ugh…

Marianne Elliot gets played off….Droopy purple dress…

8:50pm-Don Cheadle introduces the long ago-closed, but worthy “The Scottsboro Boys,” which is also looking awkward and the sound…it’s not good…echoey…The audio even went off during Norbert’s number from “Catch Me…” for a bit! Yes, it did! Very SHORT number. Did not represent that really admirable musical very well at all.

The Musicals are allll looking bad.

Winner so far of Best Overall Presence and Presentation ~ John Leguizamo.

Tony Nominees ~ The Final Parsing

Dear Cineastes, dear readers, dear theatrelovers of literature, my Tony nominee show aired last week in my NYC cable TV time slot, and this week is another brand-new show containing interviews with Emma Roberts and Paul Giamatti and Tony nominee for Best Actor Bobby Cannavale.

The videos of this show have been up for awhile now on You Tube www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

But how right were we? And would I change anything now that so many of my critical colleagues have weighed in? And what HAS changed?

Well, for those you of you who don’t want to, or can’t, click on the above link for some reason, here’s the latest.

“The Book of Mormon” “The Book of Mormon” “The Book of Mormon” All three of us pundits on my show DID pick that, too. And it was the only time we all agreed. So that as they say is that. The question remains just how big are its’ coattails? Will it sweep in the Acting categories?

On my show, in the Best Actor in a Musical category, we all agreed that Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad would cancel each other out. But the NY Times’ Patrick Healy, thinks that Josh Gad might have a slight edge. Norbert Leo Butz is what my two TV colleagues said. And I felt it was Tony Shelton for “Priscilla Queen of the Desert.”

EVERYbody on Theatertalk, which shot a Tony show that I couldn’t find(it’s on You Tube under CUNY-TV) because of the pledge week goings-on, all thought Tony Shelton, too.

Norbert Leo Butz won the Drama Desk Award in this category and gave an evidently heart-rending speech. But how much of an overlap is there between the Tony Voters and the Drama Desk? If the show bookers, the tour operators, who supposedly make up  a sizable chunk of the Tony Voters, are looking to award someone who will tour…Tony Shelton is the most likely to do that…

Drag queens with awards? Well, the Tonys have a long history of that. Only last year Douglas Hodge won for his poignant plucky Zaza in the umpteenth revival of “La Cage Aux Folles” They like giving the Tony to an Old Man in a Dress.

But that’s a category that is definitely a toss-up with so many could-win contenders in it.

Two categories that have yielded a clear front runner since we filmed my show at the Bombay Palace restaurant…on a rainy day in May…are Best Actress in a Play, which I agreed at the time with Sherry Eaker, was Frances McDormand. And the other category is Best Actress in a Musical with Sutton Foster! My two compadres, Sherry and Scott Siegel, said Sutton, too. And everyone on Theatertalk did, too.

I said “Patina Miller” in “Sister Act” but since then Sutton seems to be experiencing a groundswell of support, just like “The Book of Mormon” and “Frances McDormand” are. The New York Times didn’t even mention Patina Miller!

The two revival categories~ Play and Musical~ also drew consensus. It’s “Normal Heart” and “Anything Goes” by all. Except me, who said “How To Succeed…”

Oh, Time Out New York agreed with this too. “Mormon”, McDormand and Sutton…

Best Actor in a Play is as up in the air as Best Actor in a Musical. I said Bobby Cannavale for “The Motherfucker with a Hat” but Sherry said “Mark Rylance” for “Jerusalelm” and Scott Siegel said “Al Pacino” for “Merchant of Venice.”

On Theatertalk(you really should try to watch it on YouTube. It’s worth the search.) Surprisingly someone who neither Sherry nor Scott nor I mentioned Joe Mantello from “A Normal Heart” was the consensus winner. With Mark Rylance on the outside. Time Out New York thought Rylance, too….

So THAT category is definitely a toss-up.

And Best Play? Another toss-up. With all four candidates having supporters. Me? I said “Motherfucker with a Hat”. And Scott and Sherry thought “War Horse” as did Time out and a lot of pundits on Theatertalk. “Good People” also just won the New York Critics Circle Award just today after FOUR ROUNDS of voting. And that says something…or does it?

Lots of surprises, toss-ups and blindsides in many, many categories this year, which means it’s been a VERY good year for Broadway.

Watch the Tonys on Sunday night at 8pm on CBS!

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