a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for November, 2011

A GRRRReat Day for “The Artist”! Bad day for George Clooney…

So Super Tuesday of the Awards Season has come and gone and the faster-than-they’ve ever been, the Speedy Alkaselzters of Film Critics, the New York Film Critics Circle named “The Artist” Best Picture and its’ unknown-in-America director Michel Hazanaviscius, Best Director! Yay! But what does this alll MEAN?

Sasha Stone at www.awardsdaily.com and Tom O’Neil, the guy who started all this Oscar madness, at www.goldderby.com both point out that only five times in the past 20 years have the Oscars and the New York Film Critics agreed.

But it must be a VERY happy day over at the Weinstein Company! And at chez Hazanaviscius! The champagne corks must be popping! I mean, not only is this bon-bon of a movie in BLACK and WHITE, it’s also SILENT! And FRENCH! Or French made! And I can NOT name a French movie that has gotten THIS close to Oscar before.

So it’s unprecedented and unbelievable, but not by Sasha and I who called it as soon as we saw it. She, in Cannes, and I, in Montreal! At the Montreal Film Festival! What a beautiful moment that was!

And I described earlier how exciting the NY Press junket was. In this blog, just a little while back, I said that I felt Oscar’s presence in that room. Or rather suite of many rooms. Everyone was just so happy that day! But there was the little(or not so little, really) golden guy’s overwhelming presence in the air!

I knew I was surrounded by winners but the alllll knew it too. It was a nonpareil feeling, vraiment! Bien sur!

And since this is the first announced major award of the season, it may have more impact than any other NYFCC’s awarding has ever had before.

Famously the NYFCC moved up its date to be BEFORE the National Board of Review which is set to announce on Thursday. Will they rubber stamp the NYFCC? Or will they differ? Well, they may choose a different Best Actress than Meryl Streep. They could choose Michelle Williams’ wonderful Marilyn. But their choice of La Streep shows that yes, indeed, she is the front-runner in that category and NOT Viola Davis. Also, strangely, it’s a movie that hasn’t even opened yet and won’t for a couple of more weeks.

Oh, and not so strangely, “The Iron Lady” is ANOTHER Weinstein opus. I mean, it’s just incredible!

Also incredible is that David Fincher’s American re-make of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” got NO-THING from the NYFCC. And this is the movie that made them move their date YET AGAIN to accommodate seeing this just-finished film.

Also everyone and his blogging brother was saying it was  a war between “The Descendants” and “The Artist” and now…”The Descendants” lost big time all over the place. It got NO-THING from the NYFCC and also George Clooney did not get a Best Actor Nomination from the Independent Spirit Awards. Yes, THEY were announced today, too, and Sasha has all of them over at www.awardsdaily.com And her take on what all this means.

I think, personally it means nominations for all these winners. It REALLY helps Albert Brooks who got Best Supporting Actor for “Drive”. And “Drive” which I liked immensely seemed to be slipping off the pundit-o-sphere. But Albert’s back and I think IN. And yes, he WAS really scarey in that movie! He was playing a gansta. No, I’m not kiddin’! He really was! People forget what a good, solid actor is underneath the rest of his many talents, but the NYFCC with this award has reminded everyone.

This is not necessarily the case for the lovely Jessica Chastain who wins for THREE movies. But which of these three “The Tree of Life”, “The Help”, and “Take Shelter” is the Academy(and the Globes and SAG, etc. etc) going to choose to rally behind as THE ONE. The Academy only allows for one film per nomination.

Like for instance, the National Board of Review can give Jessica the same Supporting Actress award for all those movies, too.

But the Oscars have to pick just one. It seems like “The Tree of Life” is the one with the most life in it. It tied the Gotham Awards last night for Best Picture with “Beginners” Yay! For Mike Mills! And for Christopher Plummer! “Beginners” also got Best Ensemble at the Gothams! And “The Descendants” AGAIN got nothing.

I tell you as well made as I felt “The Descendants” was it was ultimately extremely depressing.
So we can almost write “The Descendants” off our lists. And it seems Brad Pitt is now the movie star to beat for Best Actor, since he won here for “Moneyball” and “The Tree of Life”(yup, there it is again!) As I wrote earlier in the Comments Section of Awardsdaily tonight, I REALLY DON’T WANT TO KEEP TALKING ABOUT “TREE OF LIFE” but it seems I have, too.

People keep bringing it up, primordial ooze, dinosaurs and all. RIDICULOUS film! But Brad Pitt’s and Jessica Chastain’s ’50 Texas husband and wife WERE lovely. I’m just surprised to find people remember them and remember them so strongly.

So now it’s Brad Pitt v. Jean Dujardin with George Clooney running on the sidelines, huffing and puffing, like he does so memorably, in his Mad Dash scene in “The Descendants”…trying to keep up.

Well, we’ll see what the National Board of Review does. They, too, may pick “The Artist” but I’m betting Best Actor, Actress and Supporting will be different. But Jessica Chastain may score again with them because she’s got those multiple movies. Seven I think, behind her this year.

But congratulations to all these winners, and let me do a final shout out to winner of the Breakthrough Director Award Dee Rees for “Pariah” and also to Adepero Oduye who received an Independent Spirit Award for Best Actress for “Pariah” Both were my guests at TIFF this year.

And you can see them and ALLLL “The Artist”s on my YouTube channel www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

Oscar-seeking “The Artist” interviews now up on You Tube!

The absolutely charming and funny interviews it was my privilege to do with the Oscar seeking stars of “The Artist” Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejos and their supremely talented director Michel Hazanaviscius as well as American actress Penelope Anne Miller are all up now on my You Tube Channel at www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

It was incredibly exciting talking to them all, especially the suave French charmer Jean Dujardin! When he speaks in French, mon dieu! It was all I could do to keep from melting like an ice-cube in the heat of the Gallic sun! Sacre bleu! I kept trying to think who he reminded me of. I kept wracking my brains and finally it hit me! He’s like Clark Gable. He’s the new Clark Gable!

I really do feel he is going to best George Clooney for Best Actor. George already has an Oscar, let’s not forget. And the Academy never forgets. For “Syriana” a few years back and it was for Supporting.

And Clark Gable won his first and only Oscar for a comedy! “It Happened One Night” back at the very beginning of his career, in the ’30s.

I think Stu Van Airsdale has Jean Dujardin in his number one spot now on his Oscar Index at www.movieline.com and David Poland has said vis-a-vis George in “The Descendants” “We’ve seen this before.” David is at www.moviecitynews.com mais oui.

What Jean has got going for him is that he’s NEW. And that incredible sense of humor! And it’s very unusual to find a tall, dark and handsome leading man who is also hilarious, in whatever language he’s speaking. Jean’s a riot in the interview with me. He just can’t stop being all ’round entertaining! AND he tap dances!

“The Artist” is open now and the raves are piling in and I hope the audiences do, too. It’s a delight.

And I’m delighted to use the word “delight” so many times in one article! But that’s what “The Artist” is! Deeee-lightful!

And for Berenice Bejos, her chances in Best Supporting Actress, keep growing every day! Aussi, elle est merveilleuse!

Oscar’s Thanksgiving Wishes for Michelle’s Marilyn Pour In!

A Happy, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, my dear readers, dear cineastes! And on this Thanksgiving Day I have one great big movie movie to be Thankful for, which is, you guessed it, you who have been reading this humble blog since Day One, it’s Michelle Williams and all the rest of the wonderful cast in the Best Film of the Year, “My Week with Marilyn.”

Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone has compiled a list of wonderful rave reviews from the likes of Rex Reed to David Denby of the “New Yorker” to Roger Ebert. You can read them all at www.awardsdaily.com

Add to them Stephanie Zacharek at www.movieline.com as well as Oscar, the Grouch Jeff Wells at www.hollywood-elsewhere.com and yes, by George it’s a consensus! Jeff saved his review until today. Wild. But I’m happy it’s at last there.

Only it’s not a race between Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady” and Michelle’s Marilyn.

I don’t think Meryl stands a ghost of a chance with the Academy. She will no doubt get a 17th Oscar nomination, which is PHENOMENAL, record-breaking and an award in itself. I don’t think the Academy will ever give her a third Oscar. She already has two.

And yes, they were earned at the beginning of her career a LONNNNNG time ago. And I really doubt that her Margaret Thatcher turn(I haven’t seen it yet. But soon, I hope) will melt the Academy’s icy heart.

Why? Well, she’s got, well, too much. She’s rich. She’s happily married for over 20 years or more actually. She has four happy and healthy children, two of them, Mamie and Grace are also actresses, and her son Hank is a musician.

No discernible tragedy in her life. Just success, success, success and more money.

Oscar? Well, lately his eye has been on the young’uns in the Best Actress category. Last year’s match between Natalie Portman in “Black Swan” and Annette Bening in “The Kid’s Are All Right” I think is going to be indicative of what happens again this year. The young, cute, NAKED girl wins! And Michelle is pretty nude, pretty often in “Marilyn.” It’s a very sexy performance.

One that turns on every male who sees it and many of the women, too. Like Zacharek and also Claudia Puig in USA Today. And on and on…Not however Manola Dargis in the NYTimes…

If the Nominees turn out to be Meryl, Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs”, Williams, Tilda Swinton(or Charlize Theron) both of whom have Oscars already, and Viola Davis….I see only Viola Davis as perhaps Williams’ competition. For “The Help”.

But with stellar, glittering reviews like Michelle is getting most of the time…I don’t think she can be beat.

Harvey Weinstein HIMSELF is even doing a Satellite Interview Tour – ON BEHALF OF “MARILYN”. This is unprecedented! And I’m guessing he’s going the whole nine yards on behalf of this beautiful, sexy, lovely, funny, moving movie movie because he thinks it has a shot at a Best Picture nomination, too. As well as the obvious nominations of Michelle and Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence Olivier.

And I think he’s right.

Masterful Woody Allen doc on PBS! Part 2 tomorrow!

Dear Readers, Dear Cineastes, you MUST see the new Woody Allen doc on American Masters on PBS! It’s simply one of the best things I’ve ever seen on TV! And if you think you know Woody, think again! There is sooo much new material on Allen, who is really letting us see inside his life, in a way, he’s never done before…It was gripping, compelling, revelatory!

And Part Two is on tomorrow night! At 9pm! Monday night! So don’t miss it! It’s required viewing! I loved it!

I just sat there enthralled. I who have seen “Midnight in Paris” EIGHT TIMES! I was just overwhelmed how much this man, this one human being, had such an impact on my life. And of course, also, my work. It really is staggering.

Well, we’re both redheads, and we’re both native New Yorkers. He’s from Brooklyn. I’m from the Bronx.

He’s Jewish. I was raised Catholic.

And he emphasized things, in this, I guess, the official, authorized version of his life story, that I had assumed, but never thought he would admit. Like for instance, the impact Diane Keaton had on this life and work…Well, he starred her in SOOOOO many movies and he won her the Oscar for “Annie Hall” which remains to this day his only Academy Award winning movie…and also the same for Keaton.

She was certainly his great muse and the relationship endured for years, and he acknowledges her talent, and the impact she had on his life.  And I was staggered to be reminded just how many movies he starred her in. It was almost uncountable.

And the way he laid out, or the filmmakers did, just how his career grew and developed and CHANGED and evolved and I realized that I had seen every single one of his Part One movies. I was a die-hard fan in those days! I guess I still am.

Part Two is going to be very interesting, because I think it’s entitled “Woody and Mia” and it’s going to be very compelling to see how they handle his Second Act, which is plagued with The Scandal. And that hovers overz him, like a black cloud, to this day.

This was a very palpable (there’s that word again) plea for remembrance and re-consideration of his staggering oeuvre, coming right when it does at Oscar time, and when his great financial success “Midnight in Paris” is on everyone’s Oscar list.  Will he win Best Picture? Well, I think for sure he’s going to win Best Original Screenplay. And there will be more nominations in categories people aren’t expecting him and his film to turn up in. He may get a Best Director nomination. And Corey Stoll and Marion Cotillard may both turn up in the Supporting  categories and there may be many technical below-the-line, as they say, categories, where “Midnight in Paris” could score, too.

This really stupendous American Masters profile is one of the best,most vital things PBS has ever done. And it kept going back and back everytime to his writing. Emphasizing that it was his writing that everything flowed from.

So, yes, to a Best Original Screenplay win and I can’t wait to see Part Two tomorrow night!

James McAvoy via Satellite on “Arthur Christmas”

Is there any star more Christmas-y that Scottish charmer James McAvoy? Calling me via satellite from London, James was all aglow about the coming Holiday Season and the fact that his new animated film “Arthur Christmas” is about to open everywhere, like Santa Claus, the charming James is about to be everywhere at once. The film opens next week. Same day as “The Artist,” “My Weekend with Marilyn,” and “Hugo”! WOW! What a festive filmic day that is going to be!

James is a father now. He has a new little boy, the year and a half year old son, who he says, “Is too young to notice about Christmas yet. But NEXT year!”

He also mentions that a sequel to the box-office blockbuster “X-Men” first class is being planned with himself and Michael Fassbender back to repeat their roles as Professor X & Magneto!

My Christmas-y interview with James, who I’ve now interviewed I think at least five times, will be coming soon on www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow.

Just in time for Christmas, I hope.

Oscar, a palpable presence at “The Artist” junket NYC!

Yes, I felt Oscar IN THE ROOM! There was a presence that I could really, really feel today at “The Artist”s press junket in NYC and I’ve come to the conclusion that I felt Oscar him/itself there. Everyone was sooo happy! I’ve never seen this before! EVAH! And for a comedy???

Well, Woody Allen never does press things like this. Or not much.

He did subject himself to a print media only press conference last year for “You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger” and I did meet him there. He’s wonderful. What can you say? He’s Woody. And I’ve just seen “Midnight in Paris” EIGHT TIMES!

Well, it’s gonna be a very French year at the Oscars, I predict. Between “Midnight…” and “The Artist”s charming French stars and director…I really do think it’s between the two of these light-as-air Gallic breezes of up-beat comedies for Best Picture this year.

The biggest difference? Well, let’s say DIALOGUE. “The Artist” is a silent film. And also color. “The Artist” is in Black and White. No I’m not kidding. It really IS.

What was one of Alice’s tasks in “Through the Looking Glass”? Trying to imagine eight impossible things before breakfast?

Well, you can count the improbable, but very palpable rise of “The Artist” as at least two or maybe three or maybe FOUR of those impossible things.

1) It’s in Black and White

2) It’s Silent

3) It’s French. And a French film, made by French people has never won the Oscar

4) It’s a comedy

5) It’s star Jean DuJardin as very likely a Best Actor nominee(and he may WIN. See below..)

6)It’s comely leading lady, French actress Berenice Bejos will probably be nominated for Best Supporting Actress

Oh, well, that’s SIX impossible things right there.

That this small, short(100 mins.) black and white silent film just continues like Alice herself to just rise and rise and rise ~ all the way to the Oscars…probably. Well, it’s “most improbable” is most probably what Alice would say.

There was something in the air this morning. An elan. A delightful sparkle. Something had happened to alllll those present. And I do think it was that Oscar had announced himself to all and sundry that yes, they were all going to go to the Kodak Pavillion come February.

And they ALL knew it. And all were smiling, smiling, smiling…

When I said something to this effect to Berenice Bejos, the winsome Peppy Miller, the ingenue who charlestons her way into our hearts AND the heart of “The Artist” himself, Jean Valentin, (DuJardin) this morning she said “That’s what everyone keeps telling us.” And I really did believe that everyone, and not just me, was saying this to Mlle. Bejos.

And this time it wasn’t just me (or someone like Hollywood-Elsewhere’s Jeff Wells, at www.hollywood-elsewhere.com who went off on a supportive spree for this low-budget indie “Tyrannosaur” hosting three screenings in L.A. There were only TWO in NYC, and I couldn’t make either of them.) it wasn’t just me, or Jeff, going off and on about falling in love with a movie. This time “The Artist” was a movie EVERYONE had already fallen in love with. HARD .There wasn’t a cynical smirk in the room.

And I, Oscarologist that I am, really DO feel it’s going to win something. And win something BIG like “Best Picture” or Best Actor for Jean DuJardin or maybe BOTH!

It will certainly get nominated for everything under the sun, the Hollywood sun, because yes, this satire and loving tribute to silent films, was actually made and shot in Hollywood employing many below the line technical people in L.A. where the verisimilitude of making Old Hollywood movies, really never has gone far from where it all started.

And authentic “The Artist” certainly seems to be. Except that it’s made by French people. The director the almost unpronounceable Michel(pronounced like “Michelle” as in “Michelle Williams”) wait for it. Hazanavicius. Which is pronounced like the words “Hosannah!” as it “Yippee!” andvis-e-use, as only the French can pronounce that last syllable like is “ooze.” Or “Yoose”

And it’s two out-of-ballpark charming French stars Jean DuJardin and the aforementioned Mlle. Bejos( pronounced like Bay-Jo, with a hard “j”) who is the director, M. Hazanavicius’ wife IRL.

And of course, the unseen star, Harvey Weinstein,  the canny producer who bought this French bon-bon (Tom O’Neil’s descriptive word for “The Artist” and he’s right. Read his classic Oscar site www.goldderby.com for MORE on The Race) at Cannes, mais oui, in all its’ black and white gorgeousness and Harvey, the Oscar Whisperer (as Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone calls him at www.awardsdaily.com ) is VERY effective at these improbable Oscar feats. Like perhaps grabbing an Oscar win in Best Picture for a BLACK AND WHITE film with NO DIALOGUE at all, and perhaps more likely, an Oscar for Best Actor for Jean Dujardin.

Hey, I know it sounds crazy, but he’s done this before with a foreign film actor, the Italian comedian Roberto Benigni. Yes, he DID win Best Actor. For “Life Is Beautiful” I know it sounds impossible, but this is absolutely TRUE!

So Harvey and the Academy have been down this road before. But yet, have they? I mean, this is a film that yes, is made by and stars French actors, but it’s SILENT!

Harvey is going to argue in the coming months that Jean DuJardin has had the hardest (read “degree of difficulty) role in that he has to make everyone enjoy themselves WITHOUT SAYING A WORD! Now, that’s hard!

And Best Actor is shaping up to be a smack-down(Tom O’Neil’s word again) between three very successful actors, George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio. All incredible handsome, RICH, and very well established stars. Knocking each other out of competition, or it seems to me, this morning, cancelling each other out….Nothing the Academy hates more than rewarding RICH, GOOD LOOKING guys. OK, GREAT looking guys.  Yeah, it’s true. Just as they LOVE rewarding beautiful young girls, like this year’s Michelle Williams. Who is beyond-belief sexy and fetching as hell, as Marilyn Monroe….The Academy is nothing if not predictable.

And I thought earlier last week(which now seems like LAST YEAR in Oscar-time) that it was going to be Leo as “J.Edgar”, but I was not prepared for the critical drubbing the film got. Homophobia pure and simple, if you ask me, but still there it was landing a low-ball and way-out-side on Rotten Tomatoes. www.rottentomatoes.com And although Leo was praised for his performance…

I think that unexpectedly harsh reception (unexpected by me, I must emphasize) has knocked him down a few pegs and you can see this reflected in Stu Van Airsdale’s Oscar Index where now Jean Dujardin sits right below George Clooney on Stu’s Oscar Index this week. www.movieline.com.

And the Gurus o’ Gold, as I said, have ONLY ONE VOTE separating “The Descendants” and “The Artist.”  ONE VOTE.

And watch what happens next week when BOTH “My Week with Marilyn”‘ AND “The Artist” open ON THE SAME DAY!

Methinks Harvey W. has done it AGAIN!

And you can see my interviews with allllll these wonderful, talented people coming soon to my YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

Oscar doings…Upsom Downs “sounds like a racetrack” & it IS!

More and more the Oscar race reveals itself. Every day it is more and more like Auntie Mame’s Upsom Downs. “Sounds like a race track!” said Auntie M. And it IS!

Today “The Descandants” has just opened to tumultuous acclaim. Except for a few. Like Stephanie Z. at www.movieline.com

And of course, you can follow Stu Van Arsdale’s hilarious Oscar Index! Upsom Downs personified! And those bobble heads of Stu’s keep moving! And this week it’s all about The Descendants ascendance. And yes, it, and George are the first placers on Stu’s great chart. As they both are at David Poland’s Gurus o’ Gold at www.moviecitynews.com. But I wonder…only ONE tiny point separates it on the GOG from yes, you guessed it, “The Artist.”

Me, as you know, I thought “The Descendants” was very well done, but VERY depressing.

It revolves around George Clooney’s (unfaithful) wife who is in a coma for nearly the entire movie and her horrifying visage and the various stages of decaying deformity she goes through, are the main image you take away from this film, not Gorgeous George’s gorgeousness.

And dashing and movie star handsome, he remains, though in “The Descendants” he is playing a cuckold. In Hawaii, yet.

And there’s the rub. What woman on EARTH, never mind Hawaii, would cheat on the most beautiful man in the world,who is also one of the richest lawyers on Hawaii, where the film is so magnificently set. REALLY?

So, yeah, there is this little believability problem. PLUS director/screenwriter Alexander Payne never lets us forget the image of the once beautiful, now horrible- looking woman in the coma. No matter how many laughs he’s milking out of this improbable situation.

HOWEVER, the critical masses have deigned it WONDROUS! And that leads to many pull quotes for the many, many ads that will be coming our way just about NOW!

More than ever I’m hearing about “The Artist,” however. ALL THE TIME the drumbeat continues. As you know, I loved it. But haven’t seen it since its’ rapturous screening at the Montreal Film Festival. See my article on same archived at www.awardsdaily.com

It’s incredible that this little BLACK AND WHITE AND SILENT film comedy could’ve come through EVERY SINGLE FILM FESTIVAL since then with the chorus of “Bravos” never diminishing.

It will be VERY interesting to see not how the critical bodies will react to “The Artist.” We know. They’ll love it. But will they love it more than they love “The Descendants?” And more importantly will people come to see a)The Depressing Movie about The Woman in the Coma or b) a BLACK AND WHITE FILM WITHOUT SOUND?

We shall soon see.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: