a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for February, 2012

Five Oscars to “The Artist”! Jean Dujardin Triumphs as Best Actor! Meryl Upsets Best Actress!

WOW! WHAT a great Oscar show this year! Not the least of which was the excitement of seeing “The Artist” win Five Oscars!!! Including Best Picture, Best Actor, Jean Dujardin and Best Director Michel Hazanaviscius! And then, Meryl Streep upsets in Best Actress, and dressed-to-kill in a glittering golden gown, the world was SHOCKED, or I was anyway, and the people at the Oscar party I saw it at, won her THIRD Oscar, the first in 29 years!

And Meryl looking like the living embodiment of Oscar itself, in that golden dress-to-end-alll-Oscar-dresses, she was definitely in it to win it!

And win it, she did!

It was a big night for Harvey Weinstein, too, and the Weinstein Company, because they won Five Oscars for “The Artist” two for “The Iron Lady” (Best Actress and Best Make-Up” and TWC ALSO won the Best Documentary for “The Undefeated.” That’s QUITE a haul for one night!

Congratulations, Harvey! Bravo! Well played! And whatever you’re doing, obviously you’re doing it right!

Meryl’s unexpected win was really thrilling and she was funny and thrilled herself.

And the French artists behind “The Artist” must’ve had QUITE a wonderful night last night, too!

I did attend a wonderful Oscar party and this took my mind off my computer problems. I dropped my laptop and the AC Adapter got bent, which is why I haven’t been able to blog post here or anywhere in the past few days! Bummer!

But here I am(not on my own computer, but nevertheless, here) and I’ll keep trying to record all my excited, and hopefully, exciting thoughts on last night’s great, great show!

Billy Crystal was DIVINE! He hit the perfect note as the Oscar Host. Funny, really funny, and at 63 dashing and dapper, he kept everything moving and classy. It was like the fastest Oscar show I’d ever experienced.

It is so much better to see it with friends, who are just as invested as you are in the outcome. Well, not THAT invested. I, who write for www.awardsdaily.com and produce and host www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

the Stephen Holt Show. Sometimes I think I’m OVER invested.

I felt awful for Michelle Williams losing. THAT I didn’t like. But other than that I was happy with the outcome.

And I have to point out that Dave Karger and the EW staff, who put that Oscar Race cover and issue, which will now live in infamy, as NEITHER of the depicted duo(George Clooney and Viola Davis) won! FAIL! I knew Oscar voters would be offended by EW TELLING them who to vote for! You don’t DO that!

I’m sure Harvey Weinstein doesn’t do that, but whatever he does, it’s phenomenally persuasive. Last year “The King’s Speech” and now THIS year “The Artist”, “The Iron Lady” AND “The Undefeated”!!!

Well, that’s what Harvey W. is today! Undefeated!

Oscar Voting Closes ~ Sasha Stone Says 9 Out of 10 for “The Artist”!

So as of yesterday, the Oscar Voting for the Best of 2011, closed at 5pm PST. Now what happens? Well, we all just sort of COUNT THE HOURS til Sunday night’s BIG SHOW. And try to figure out what went wrong, or right, depending. Me, I’m just over-the-moon delighted with how incredible an Oscar response the beautiful French bon-bon received. “The Artist” is poised, thinks Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone, who lives and breathes this stuff even more than I do, she thinks “The Artist” is going to take home NINE out of its’ ten nominations!

That would be divine, as far as I’m concerned. Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Score, Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Costumes is what I thought would happen. And then Scott Feinberg, STILL the only Oscarologist who’s linked to this site.Thank you, Scott.

Scott ALSO predicted the same number 7, and he even wrote a comment on the previous blog post here, saying so. And no, I didn’t read Scott’s “The Hollywood Reporter” til AFTER I had written and posted mine. And I was kind of shocked that we agreed so completely.

This after last year’s Melissa Leo debacle.

Well, you can look that one up for yourselves. But every time I mentioned the words “Melissa Leo” last year, the hits SOARED! This year, not so much. But any way, Scott and I are now copacetic this Oscar year. And so much so we were predicting the same seven wins for “The Artist!” INCROYABLE! Scott’s at www.thehollywoodreporter.com

Then Sasha said “Nine” at www.awardsdaily.com and I nearly fainted! But she who knows all,(She lives in Hwood, too, so she’s right in the middle of it) thought that additionally Michel Hazanaviscius would trounce Woody Allen for Best Original Screenplay!!!! And she hasn’t been the only one saying that lately.

And that “The Artist”s production designer, who had to work in Black and White, mind you, only, that he would win over Dante Ferretti’s 3D and color work on “Hugo.”

Well, who am I to  disagree with Sasha at a final moment of the season like this?

I’m just over-the-moon about Jean Dujardin’s pulling ahead of G. Clooney with the SAG and BAFTA wins for Best Actor!

The only hold-out for George still seems to be Anne Thompson, who is parsing the possibilities over at www.indiewire.com Anne says that it’s the only interesting race left. The Jean v. George smack-down. Speaking of Tom O’Neill’s favorite word “smack-down, over at www.goldderby.com he has one of his editors Aussie Matt Noble do a very funny video about George Clooney being told that he wasn’t going to win Best Actor. Check it out. It’s hilariously done.  And yes, as Tom states, George will never forgive Matt Noble for this. But the voting’s closed. So it can’t influence voters one way or the other.

That was all done three weeks ago or more when the nominations went out.

And evidently they FLOODED back in, so says Pete Hammond at www.deadline.com

which I have been mistyped as www.deadlinehollywood.com all season. Sorry Pete. Sorry Nikki(Finke). But I’m sure you avid Oscar readers have been all over Pete Hammond’s great pieces all season long. And it IS a season. From Toronto til now, it just doesn’t stop.

And to think that Harvey Weinstein could be TRIUMPHING for a second year in a row, it’s just mind-boggling! Where would “The Artist” be without his excellent producing skills? And his drive? And his uncanny ability to read the Academy voters and play them like violins.

Although I must say, when I saw “The Artist” I DID think “The Academy is going to LOVE this! It’s all about THEM!”

But without Harvey “The Artist” would just be a small tres charmant French film, playing the Festivals and the art house circuit and not the PHENOMENON he turned it into! Bravo! Once again, all of Hollywood owes you bigtime for making the Oscars so exciting again!

And Jean! As I told Jean and Berenice Bejo when I interviewed them back in November in NYC at “The Artist”s press junket, they were going to become VERY famous in America and that they would win the Oscars! And once again, the Oscar Messenger’s message came true. Just like I told Colin Firth and Tom Hooper of “The King’s Speech” their great Oscar news a year ago last September at the Toronto International Film Festival.

You can see me telling them the good news if you search for Jean DuJardin -Stephen Holt show on You Tube. Or just go to my YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow and search for it there. It’s gone viral with over 45,000 hits at this point. Ditto Colin Firth from last year who is now up to 92,ooo hits!

And TWC also sent me over the moon with two terrific satellite interviews with Penelope Ann Miller and James Cromwell, also of “The Artist.” They played George Valentin’s neglected, unhappy wife and his loyal Butler/Chauffeur respectively.

And Best Actress???? Well, that’s another topic ENTIRELY! I’ll get into that next!

How Many Oscars Will “The Artist” Win?

It’s now less than a week away. And on Tuesday at 5pm PST, the ballots that aren’t there are due in. Or else they won’t be counted.

Tom O’Neil at www.goldderby.com wonders if tomorrow’s President’s Day holiday isn’t going to confuse last-minute voters. It’s a postal holiday, too. And if you dropped something in the mail on Saturday, it might not get there in time for Tuesday. So your vote won’t be counted.

Me? I’d send it back in the minute I got it which would be several weeks ago now, right after the nominations were announced. A lot of people do do that. They who want their votes to be counted. Those who CARE.

Some people don’t even see the movies and some people don’t even BOTHER to vote. Which this year all somehow helps “The Artist.”

How many will it win? I’m predicting a more or less duplication of the BAFTAS which would be seven. I’ll count them for you, shall I?

Best Picture is in the bag, as is Best Director Michel Hazanaviscius(and that’s the last time I going to spell all that out in this article!) Jean Dujardin, I think is going to repeat his Cannes win for Best Actor, which he also reduplicated at the Golden Globes, THE SAGS and the BAFTAS?!? And the wonderful score by Ludovic Bource, which in the place of dialogue, IS the dialogue of this wonderful, classic movie. So that’s four.

It won costumes at the BAFTAS and it’s an American costume designer, Mark Bridges, who also has designed recent Academy faves “The Fighter” and “There Will Be Blood.”  So that makes five.

And last night “The Artist” won the A.C.E.Eddie award which is even more important an indicator and more predictive than the DGA. And who was the recipient? Why, Michel H.! Again! He could carry home THREE Oscars, for BP, BD, and now also best editing, too, which he shares with Anne-Sophie Bion!

The last one is a little tricky by I don’t see how they can ignore how important the contribution of Guillaume Shiffman was as the Black and White Cinematographer. Yes, “The Artist” could win this, too.

Michel H., since he’s already taking home THREE Oscars, may not win Best Original Screenplay, since he’s up against his Idol, and mine, Woody Allen for “Midnight in Paris.” They’ll give Woody SOMEthing. But this could be an upset, too, since its upset everything else. It won’t be a record, either, since I think the Coen Bros. pulled off a triple crown with “No Country for Old Men.” Best Picture, Best Director(s) and Best Screenplay.

Art Direction, as at the BAFTAS, will probably go to Dante Ferretti of “Hugo”. And “Hugo” with the most nominations will probably win BOTH Sound Awards, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. And also I think Best Special Effects for it’s use of 3D.

I don’t think Berenice Bejo, who actually is a Latina, since she was born and raised in Argentina, and moved to France as an adult, is going to win in Supp. Actress. That seems locked up long ago by Octavia Spencer in “The Help.”

But 7 is an impressive  take, and it could be MORE! If he beats Woody. AND Dante Ferretti. But I don’t think so.

Oscar Countdown….Will anything happen in the next 10 days?

So Feb.26 is coming fast upon us, ladies and gentle-persons, and on Oscar Night all will be decided. The major precursor awards are all handed out. And it sure looks like a done-deal for “The Artist”, Michel Hazanaviscius and also, too for Jean Dujardin, who has just headed back to France, where he in all probability will win their Oscar called the Cesar for Best Actor! How many more awards will this wonderful guy win? Probably a lifetime of them. His talent which burst like the sun upon the world in May in Cannes, where he also won THEIR Best Actor award. It seems to just not stop.

George Clooney, I still maintain, could get a consolation screenplay (adapted) prize for his produced/directed/starring turn in “The Ides of March.” But otherwise, “The Artist” is sweeping you off the floor, George. Get used to it.

And Best Actress? Well, it’s SUCH a dead heat between Meryl Streep for “The Iron Lady” and Viola Davis for “The Help” that even the brilliant Stu Van Airsdale at www.movieline.com has them both in a tie on his great Oscar Index.  If even HE is confused….then where does that put the rest of us?

I still say in Michelle Williams’ beautiful hands.

With even St. Anne Thompson changing her mind from George to Jean this week at her great next-to-last podcast of Oscar Talk at www.indiewire.com Anne does sneak in the reference “Don’t forget about the steak-eaters…” which her co-host demurely side-steps. “It’s a factor” Anne ads…but goes no further.

She calls them Steak-eaters. I call them the S.W.O.R.M. (straight white old rich men) who do form the bulk of the academy.

Which could hand the Best Actress win to Michelle. Over the over 45 ladies “In Contention.”

But when ONLY the Best Actress race is really up in the air, that’s a very solid win for “The Artist” which is poised to sweep. “How many?” asks Anne, and you, yourselves, dear readers, dear cineastes? Well, BP, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Score, which is what “The King’s Speech” got, the amount being four. But I do think because of the Degree of Difficulty it will also score in the technicals being Black and White Cinematography at its’ best.

It’s not long now. I’ll keep you posted. Voting, BTW, closes FINALLY on Tues.

Also, you can see me live and in person doing my Oscar Predictions tonight on Ch.56 on Time Warner Cable in Manhattan at midnight and on Ch.83 on RCN and Fios on Ch.34 at the same time, midnight! You can also see it right now on www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow


Michelle Williams Could STILL Win Best Actress in an Upset!

Well, SOMEbody has to say this so I am! Michelle Williams could still win Best Actress in an upset!

After Meryl Streep’s losing her shoe, cinderella-style, as she went up to accept HER upset win at the BAFTAs and everybody’s Prince Charming Colin Firth retrieving her shoe and kneeling to put it on her, the fairy tale was complete! OF COURSE, Meryl was going to re-duplicate this win at the Oscars! She’s great in “The Iron Lady” though the film sucks. And it’s 29 years since she won an Oscar before. It’s time.

Or is it?

Then I check back to see how everyone is reacting to this and it’s REALLY confusing.

ALLLLL the other categories are locked down tight now, as the voting begins to close this week. It’s pretty much all over. And Meryl just had The Last Big Win. And this also propelled Marion Cotillard to beat Julie Christie as I keep mentioning. And this BAFTA win did it for Tilda, too. She then won in America in Supp. Actress in a hotly contested FIVE WAY contest. And I noticed that Tilda was always coming in THIRD for “Michael Clayton” but SHE WAS THERE. She was ALWAYS THERE.

I read Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone saying that Meryl has got it in the bag at www.awardsdaily.com and she’s the most staunch Viola Davis supporter of all.

Then I notice that Pete Hammond who is right in the thick of things at www.deadlinehollywood.com is noting that it looks like Meryl, but Voting Members of the Academy keep telling him they are voting for Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe!

I’ve been plumping down my two cents on the Michelle/Marilyn side of the table since I saw this incredible film but I really felt WELL, MERYL’S WON! After the BAFTA results came in.

But then I check the Gurus ‘o’ Gold at www.moviecitynews.com and the one vote one guru counting has Viola Davis winning by a landslide of Gurus!

I’m getting soooo confused! But it’s the kind of confusion that I genuinely felt when it was Jack Nicholson for “About Schmidt” v. Daniel Day Lewis for “Gangs of New York” and it’s ALSO the same Oscarologist’s confusion that I felt when Tilda was in a five-way-race in Supporting the year she won. BTW, just for the record I PREDICTED Adrian Brody, when nobody else did, NOBODY, for “The Pianist” and I found myself predicting Tilda for “Michael Clayton”,too.

And what was the similarity that linked alllll these seemingly disparate characters? A TIGHT RACE! A VERY TIGHT RACE!

Of course, it does make everything truly suspenseful and wonderful and isn’t it about TIME that there should be ALLLLL these terrific performances from these terrific actresses??? This hasn’t happened in DECADES! DECADES!

But what this means is that Michelle Williams, who is placed THIRD behind Meryl and Viola Davis, could very well squeak through and win! And no lesser an Oscar predictor than Pete Hammond is saying this, too! It’s a scenario that I think bares repeating HERE, and I’m also sticking with Michelle on my TV show this week when we are doing what else? Oscar Predictions!

You can see my Oscar show on Friday midnight in Manhattan on Ch.56 on Time Warner Cable, and on Ch.83 on RCN and Ch.34 on Fios cable all at the same day and time. It’s also broadcast at that same day and time online at www.mnn.org Click on Ch.2 that’s 12:00AM EST.

And yes, the Gurus have it as Jean Dujardin trouncing all over George Clooney. Michel Hazanviscius as Best Director, “The Artist” as Best Picture, and OF COURSE, Octavia Spencer & Christopher Plummer in Supporting.

But if it IS Meryl or Viola and JDJ, Ms. Spencer and Mr. Plummer. NOBODY in the four top acting categories will be UNDER 40!?! And Y’know, the mainly, manly AMPAS majority the S.W.O.R.M. the Single White Old Rich Men, and the young men, too, are all going to go for the touching Michelle. Who has presented a brave, composed, perfectly on point, poised presence everywhere. They want to SEE a beautiful young woman with that Oscar. And they are already afraid of the failing TV Ratings sending them to cable.  So, me, I think the Babe Factor still RULES HOLLYWOOD!

Masterpiece “Downton Abbey” Swirls Its’ Way to a Magnificent Conclusion!

I am sooooo addicted to Masterpiece Theatre’s well, masterpiece, “Downton Abbey”! I was wondering when I was going to have the time and space to write about it, but now, with only one more episode left, the Second Season Finale, there’s no time left to start throwing superlatives at it! But don’t worry, at least its last show will ALSO be two hours long, like tonight’s was.

With all the Oscar excitement happening every other minute, I have barely had a chance to catch my blogger’s breath to spend the time and give the respect  to “Downton Abbey” that it deserves for being the magnificent achievement in series television that it is. It’s overwhelming. As all great art should be.

I have NEVER been so swept up by a British TV series in decades! Decades! Of course, it reminds one of “Upstairs, Downstairs” which I love as well. It’s all about the VERY rich Crawley(what a dreadful name) family, and their three marriage-aged daughters, Lady Mary, Lady Edith, and Lady Sybil AND their servants.

The difference between “Upstairs, Downstairs” was that it was set very firmly at 25 Eaton Place, a town house, in the grandest of styles, in London itself. It was about life in a CITY house, with servants. And lots of stairs.

“Downton Abbey” is set in an overwhelmingly majestic mansion that is nearly a castle in Yorkshire. DEFINITELY the country. And there’s a lot of stairs there, too, but with grand stair-cases.

And presiding over all of Downton’s magnificence, is the brilliant Dame Maggie Smith, always a personal favorite of mine, since, well, since forever.

I had the great good fortune to have seen her onstage in her youth(and mine) do Margery Pinchwife in “The Country Wife” ( with the divine and busty Patricia Routledge as Lady Fidget, who yes, was hilarious, and yes, couldn’t stop fidgeting!) And she was equally at home as Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler” which she did under the direction of the late great Ingmar Bergman, which I saw her do in the West End.

Maggie was overpowering and as excellent in serious roles, though  she is today  mainly known for her great comedy. And certainly her Dowager Countess of Grantham, the grandest of grande dames, is the grandmother of the Crawley brood. She seems simply hilarious, but as World War I broke out in the Second Season, Dame Maggie began to be able to show that her Dowager Countess had real metal as well as smarts AND heart. It’s a magnificent, career-capping performance that matches the majesty of Highcleere Castle,(yes, it really IS a castle) that is standing in as the fictional Downton Abbey.

Everyone in the series matches Dame Maggie. They HAVE to! All the many characters REALLY engage you and keep you watching no matter what. Particular favorites of mine are the two eldest Crawley daughters, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael).

Michelle Dockery, who is new to me (as are much of the cast except of course, Dame Maggie and American actress Maureen McGovern, as the mother of Crawley girls and Lady Grantham’s daughter-in-law) is SUCH a discovery as a new British leading lady. She has much of the weight of the series love story to carry and she does it with tremendous power, as she high-lights all of the many facets of Lady Mary’s VERY complicated character. You love her. You hate her. You want her to be happy, then you don’t want that at all. Then you love her again.

The same can be said of the less-seen Lady Edith, who is just as conflicted. Laura Carmichael looks a little like Maggie Smith when she was young, and you can see her being the grand-daughter who takes after her granny. Although as the plain, middle-sister sandwiched between two beauties Lady Mary and Lady Sybil, she has a very hard time of it. Especially in Series One, where her constant sparring and betrayal of Lady Mary, formed much of the drama pre-war in “Downton Abbey,” which they all just refer to as Downton. As if it were a person in their lives.

And one of the great glories of this superb series is Downton really is a tangible presence in all its’ characters’ lives. They can’t live with it, and they can’t live without it. And they are all living in a world that very shortly will be gone with the wind. Literally. As World War I changes everything.

In Series Two, I was not ready for my beloved British servants/masters series to turn into a war-time drama, but dear readers, dear cineastes, the War only lasts for part of Series Two. Enough to take away one of the most memorable characters, but I decided not to spoil any of this once-in-a-lifetime viewing pleasure, so I won’t put any spoilers here.

But suffice it to say, I will have A LOT MORE to say about this wonderful, unbelievable triumph of great writing, Julian Fellowes, who was the author of “Gosford Park” and great acting and directing. Down to the smallest part all the roles are perfectly cast, and “Downton Abbey” ends its Second Series on next Sunday on PBS. It’s another two-hour episode, and it never flags. It never gets tired. And it’s always enthralling.

So my greatest rave would be two words SEE IT! Next Sunday! At 9pm! The Sunday BEFORE the Oscars!

But more good news is that they are going to have a Series Three which starts in 1920! And Shirley MacLaine is joining the cast as Lady Cora(Maureen McGovern’s mother) and the Crawley girls’ American grandmother. That should be a hoot and a half!

My favoritie line of THIS evening’s episode ~ Maggie Smith to her grand-daughter Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith “Edith, don’t be depressive! It’s soo middle class!”

“Artist” wins 7 BAFTAS! Meryl Streep wins Best Actress!!

O frabjus day! Gal-loo, ga-lay! As the Jobberwok once said! (Read your Lewis Carroll!) “The Artist” just won SEVEN BAFTA awards over in London a few minutes ago! Best Picture, Best ACTOR JEAN DUJARDIN!!! Best Director and Best Screenplay(both by Michel Hazanaviscius!! So he won TWO, plus Best Picture makes three, I guess…) Best Score Ludovic Bource and also Best Cinematography, Best Costumes! And Meryl Streep won Best Actress for “The Iron Lady” besting both Viola Davis and my favorite, Michelle Williams.

Predictably, Octavia Spencer and Christopher Plummer continue their winning streaks unbroken in the Best Supporting Actor and Actress categories, too.

But this really is incredible!

The English HISTORICALLY hate the French. Didn’t they fight something like the Hundred Year War? + other conflicts since the dawn of time…Just like at how they STILL don’t get along in Canada! But that’s another story!

So when they give ALLLLLLL their major awards to the French, like they just did a few minutes ago with “The Artist”s seven times triumph! WELL! Mon dieu! La Guerre Est Finis! I hope that “The Artist” wins THAT many Oscars! It could win MORE!

One wonders if Berenice Bejo weren’t in lead, which she is here at the BAFTAs, if she would’ve won in Supporting, since that’s where she is in the US. Interestingly, it didn’t win Editing, which went to “Senna”(?)

But this signals the complete nailing of the Clooney coffin for Best Actor as the Academy’s “undecideds” will all pencil in Jean Dujardin now, and not George.

So I was right in that EW cover issue entitled “Oscar Race” DID more harm than good.

It pictured George and Viola Davis getting out of an unseen limo as if they had already won. And I knew something was wrong with that picture. I THOUGHT it was Viola. But no, it’s George.  Hope EW doesn’t make a gaffe like that again.

But they PROBABLY will.

Meanhwhile, back at Best Actress, this REALLY helps Meryl Streep in her battle with Viola Davis of “The Help.” For the BRITISH to award an American actress for playing THEIR prime minister means, it’s good. It’s REALLY good.

And in a very close race, this just may be what Meryl needs to FINALLY win her her third Oscar after 29 years of waiting!

And I have to point out that “The Artist” and “The Iron Lady” are BOTH Weinstein Co. films! Sooo…you have to congratulate Harvey Weinstein once again for working his magic with ALLLLL the top categories, BP, Best Actor AND Actress and Best Director ALLLL going to his films!

There must be SOME celebration going on over in London with the Weinstein Co. winners! WOW!

Sooooo happy for Jean Dujardin!

He was on Saturday Night LIVE last night in NYC. He must’ve just hopped on a plane immediately after and sped to the airport, for there he was in London!

Now I really have to get real and abandon all my Michelle Williams hopes and dreams…although there’s STILL the chance that the male dominated Academy here may make the Babe Factor rule once more, as it did last year with Natalie Portman.

Clearly the Brits weren’t THAT crazy about “The Help.” Octavia Spencer is their consolation prize here. At the BAFTAs I mean. Maybe the Oscars too.

Unless Meryl Streep gives a speech saying that “Viola Davis should have won.”

Now Best Actress becomes the most up-in-the-air contest its’ been for YEARS! And will probably be THE LAST award before Best Picture, that’s handed out on Oscar night.

Best Actress BAFTA Battle! And the Emergence of Adepero Oduye!!

Soon it will all be over. The BAFTA battle for Best Actress, which is the most heavily contested category on the other side of The Pond. Tonight is BAFTA night in London, and since London is six hours ahead of EST, which means we’ll be hearing the results just about NOW! Of course, I’ll be commenting on the wins and what they mean, but for quicker, faster results always check out www.awardsdaily.com for the whole British enchilada, if there is such a thing.

Best Actress is particularly crucial because it is here, and probably only here, that Michelle Williams might be able to upset the whole Best Actress race and turn everything around at the Oscars, two Sundays hence.

“My Week with Marilyn” was very well received in Blighty. Simon Curtis, the director, is riding particularly high on the “Downton Abbey” wave of reflected glory, as his wife is the magnificent Elizabeth McGovern, who plays Cora, the Countess of Grantham, but more of my Downton obsession later. But Simon Curtis, let it be said, simply is a very highly regarded director Over There. And is a beloved figure, the way he isn’t in the States. “Marilyn” was his first feature film to reach us here. And his first feature film ever. And what a film! It was my #1 film of the year!

Marilyn Monroe was a beloved figure in the U.K. as Maggie Thatcher, whom Meryl Streep is bringing to frightening life in “The Iron Lady” was not. Maggie Thatcher polarized people all her life. And is doing so now in “The Iron Lady.” Time Magazine just called “The Iron Lady” “Meryl Streep’s masterpiece.” But will the BAFTA voters look at Margaret Thatcher and simply NOT be able to vote for her? Or will they see Streep’s incredible impersonation and vote for her simply on merit?

Or will it be fellow Brit Tilda Swinton? Or will they see Viola Davis as a supporting character in the wrong category?

Whoever wins here gets a HUGE push towards the Oscars stateside. For the winds of the BAFTAS have been awfully predictive and helpful lately. Especially to Best Actresses. Any Academy members who aren’t sure WHO to vote for in that INCREDBILY competive, confusing category often wait to see who wins the BAFTA before filling out their ballots and mailing them in. It happened that way with Marion Cotillard, who won over Brit icon Julie Christie a few years back.

We shall see. Disney is pushing Viola Davis hard, hard, hard. On Thursday she was on Good Morning America at 8pm and on “The View” FOR THE FOURTH TIME this Oscar season at 11am!!! Is that overkill? Disney owns ABC, in case you don’t follow these things. But just TRY to find a shot of her pursuit of the Oscar on You Tube! I couldn’t. Not for the date of Feb.9. It’s WAR! Ladies and gentle-persons! War!

Meanwhile, Time Magazine had Adepero Oduye on a full page of its Oscar portrait gallery, all in Black and White this year, and she’s not even nominated! Though, of course, she SHOULD have been for “Pariah”.  But Meryl herself made Adepero Oduye a household word overnight by giving a great, classy shout out to her when she, Meryl, when the Golden Globe for Best Actress Drama.  And Time had Adepero SEVERAL pages BEFORE Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer and they placed Octavia FIRST.

And Adepero is on also stunningly on the cover of “Vanity Fair”s Hollywood Issue rocking Josephine Baker, I would say, in a shimmering silver gown and a marcel-waved hairdo and a  dazzling smile that just SCREAMED “star”!

She DID manage to get nominated for Best Actress for an Indie Spirit Award. And hey, it’s such a crazy, competitive year, she could win there, though she is up against Michelle and the Harvey machine.

Will the Weinstein Co.s Oscar magic extend across the Atlantic tonight at the BAFTA? We shall soon see.

And who turned up on Saturday Night Live in a Black and White all-dancing scene sketch, tapping his heart out? JEAN DUJARDIN!!!!

He’s everywhere! And meanwhile, over at www.goldderby.com they’ve conceded that yes, it’s him, in an article entitled “Five Reasons Why Jean Dujardin Will Win the Oscar.” Check it out! So that only leaves Anne Thompson who is still backing George Clooney.

Back to the BAFTAS!

Anywho, Simone….

That’s a quote from my play “Elaine?” about a lesbian at the Cannes Film Festival in the early ’80s who lost her diary which she called “Elaine.” So yes, Elaine went missing. She got another diary and named it “Simone”, so that started a whole ‘nother journey for her…

The great Lola Pashalinski played her and you can see her quite marvelously as one of the end characters that Thomas Horn’s character meets in “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” She’s the heavy-set hippie lady who’s crying then laughing. It’s a lovely little part, a great moment for Lola.

Anywho, Simone…back at the BAFTAS. My computer was giving me trouble, once again, and I had to just cut that last entry lose, as it were, and publish it, before it disappered forever.

WordPress is really so good at autosaving things, or I’d be completely lost. Like “Elaine” was in “Elaine?”

So, Sasha Stone is making her predictions for BAFTA over at www.awardsdaily.com and she makes, as always some pertinent observations. Like for instance, “Hugo” is not nominated for Best Film over in Blighty, so it can’t of course, win. So what will win Best Picture? Why, “The Artist,” of course! Mais oui, bien sur!

And Sasha(and I agree) think that Jean Dujardin is going to win here too and upset George Clooney in Best Actor. Kris Tapley thinks so, too. He formerly of the great Oscar site “In Contention” which is now part of www.hitfix.com He and St. Anne Thompson do a stupendous weekly podcast that is riveting to all you Oscarphiles out there. You MUST check it out. Either at www.indiewire.com or at hitfix in the “In Contention” section.

I usually find myself in agreement totally with Anne. But she’s still sticking with George Clooney. She describes her experiences at the Oscar Luncheon in Hollywood, which she just attended. I found her recounting of it delightful! Anne understands wit, as well as substance.

And she had a grand time at the luncheon! But noted how warm a reception George Clooney got, and Kris retorted “Well, Annette Bening got the biggest round of applause last year, and look how that turned out!” She didn’t win.

Kris’ take is that the Oscar Luncheon was meaningless as a press event. Anne got five minutes with George Clooney and then also I think either Alexander Payne, and maybe also Brad Pitt.

My take, they are both running scared from the Jean Dujardin French freight train, heading Oscar’s way with Harvey Weinstein firmly in the conductor’s booth! All aboard!

Anyhoo, Simone…back to the BAFTAS…

Kris thinks, and I do, too, as does Sasha, that Jean Dujardin is going to win Best Actor at the BAFTAS and this will sweep him into the Oscars, too. Also, the Gurus o’ Gold are now putting JDJ at the top of THEIR poll, too. It’s only Anne and also maybe to some extent Tom O’Neil at www.goldderby.com who are the hold-outs for Gawgeous George. Stu Van Airsdale at www.movieline.com in his Oscar Index also has JDJ on top in Best Actor.

Winding up towards the BAFTAS…

We know Oscar season is winding up to its’ big finish when the BAFTAs roll around. Yes, it’s BAFTA time in London and since the British Award giving organization moved its’ date to PRECEDE the Oscars, and therefore influence them, and they HAVE, the BAFTAs are having their big do on Sunday, which is like in the middle of the day here, but night time there. They’re six hours ahead of us on the East Coast, and what? Ten hours ahead of the Left Coast.

So Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone at the peerless Oscar site www.awardsdaily.com ventured her predictions, and I thought I’d share them with you dear readers, dear cineastes. You’re probably addicted to the excellent, spirited writing of hers. Which is so empassioned, it reminds me of Jane Austen. Yes! If she were alive today, she’d be an Oscar Blogger! There! I said it! This is what literature has come to in the age of Internet. But it’s no less valid because you’re READING THIS, AREN’T YOU?

I fear that more people have read my blog than ever saw my plays when they were being done quite regularly Off-Off Broadway in the ’70s and the ’80s….but anyhoo…

My career took QUITE an unexpected turn when I went on cable television here in NYC. It went in an entirely different direction in that although I was COVERING theater, I wasn’t DOING it as actively as I had before. In the early days, “The Stephen Holt Show” was very time-consuming. Very all-absorbing. And I guess it had to be. I was in a brand new(to me)medium and I had to learn how to do it and how to do it RIGHT! 24 years later, I’m STILL doing it! And I hope you take a wander over to www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow to see it there.

But back to the BAFTAS!

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