a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for July, 2012

Harvey Weinstein Changes Oscar Chess Game ~ Again!”The Master” to be shown at TIFF!

The great chess game/board that is Oscar just got a little bit more complicated and a little bit more interesting with the Weinstein Co.’s sudden announcement that Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” is now opening at the Toronto International Film Festival.

This renders Dave Karger’s “Top Ten Film To See at TIFF” list, er, a bit outdated. Because now this move makes PTA’s “The Master,” his first film since “There Will Be Blood,” now THE movie to try to get in and see REAL fast at Toronto! And *groan” I’m sure it’s going to be one of the 8:45am press screenings!

Yes, they do have them. And they keep scheduling them. This was the exact same slot that “The King’s Speech” was in two years ago. And I bet it’ll be right at the beginning on FRIDAY morning, and then they will have the press day, press conference and junket, if there is to be one, right after that.

This is how Harvey does things, and by holding back “The Master”s news til now, after the first round of TIFF films was announced, “The Master” now gets maximum and SERIOUS Oscar publicity. Whether it lives up to the hype or not, we shall see.

The venerable Steve Pond at “The Wrap” seems to be the one that broke this story first, but he certainly got the juiciest quote of TWC. This of course is the fact that the film is supposedly an expose of Scientology. Or a religion very similar to it. And the break-up of the Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes marriage is on everyone’s mind. Did this influence the change in release strategy by TWC?

To which someone there, who Steve Pond is quoting says, “It sure as hell can’t hurt.” It’s quotes like that that sell tickets.

You can read all about it at http://www.thewrap.com It’s a very good, solid website. I like it.

This also changes TWC’s emphasis in Toronto. It now shifts the focus from “Silver Linings Playbook” the David O. Russell Bradley Cooper/Jennifer Lawrence starrer to, well, “The Master”.

The fact that it’s also now being shown in Venice indicates to me an Oscar strategy being put into motion. This ia  a game that Harvey has played before, and played it this way, and won.

But is a movie about Scientology, starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquim Phoenix,  any match for the later- in-the- year films, films like “Lincoln” and “Les Miserables,” certainly crowd pleasers? At least on paper.

Time will tell, but it does seem like TWC has now kicked “Silvers Linings Playbook” ever so slightly to the Oscar curb, and planted “The Master” s Oscar flag RIGHT in the middle of everything.

Another slight tip, though. It’s a Special Presentation at Toronto, not a Gala. If TIFF thought that much of it, they’d have made it a Gala. Interesting….And Phillip Seymour Hoffman is always great. THIS we know.

If this wins the Audience Award at TIFF, look out “Lincoln” and “Les Miz”! It’s a Harvey Weinstein World and we’re all just living in it!

This move, coupled with the Venice Film Festival bow, as well, immediately preceding TIFF, makes “The Master” a film we all now HAVE to take seriously Oscar-wise.

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Oscar God Dave Karger’s Toronto Must-See List is Out!

Oscar God Dave Karger has got his top  ten list of must-see films coming up in September at the Toronto Film Festival  up and out and at’em at http://www.ew.com. Dave is RRRRRReally good at this. Though last year with that EW “Oscar Issue” cover of George Clooney and Viola Davis getting out of a limo in full Oscar drag(Tux and shimmering gown) has never been able to leave my mind. Both notoriously lost to Jean Dujardin and Meryl Streep, lest we forget…

And Toronto is RRRRREALLLLY well known as an Oscar launching pad. More and More so every year. And yes, I’m going there, once again, my 14th year in a row, and I’ll be blogging from there letting you know what’s what. I am the Oscar Messenger after all. I have to be RIGHT about these things.

Of Dave’s picks, I am really looking forward to “Anna Karenina” directed by Joe Wright. Could this be Keira Knightley’s big year? Or is it the lovely Laura Linney in “Hyde Park on the Hudson”? They are both there this Sept. and so is Marion Cotillard’s Cannes stunner “Of Rust and Bone.”

I think right there you have three out of the five Best Actress nominees.

The pictures they’re in….Not so sure about. But those performances I see all three getting in.

Toronto or TIFF as it’s abbreviated has had QUITE a history with Oscar.

But I will say, no one thought “The Artist” which was there was The One at the time. I kept hearing “We haven’t seen the Best Picture of the Year” yet.” EVERYBODY was telling me this, and as a matter of fact, yes, we had. It was “The Artist” and Harvey Weinstein was soft-pedaling “The Artist” at TIFF last year. And that was a good idea.

“The Sessions” raved about at Sundance is also a possible contender and is on Dave’s list. But that is something only in the performances, I think.

Not Best Picture.

David O. Russell’s “Silver Lining’s Playbook” ia a Weinstein film, too. But I don’t know….I’m not getting strong Oscar vibes from people like Bradley Cooper or Jennifer Sullivan(yes, HER again).And that title. It’s difficult to pronounce, a real tonque-twister.

There are others on Dave’s list, so go check it out. I just think they’re wrong. So I’m not repeating them here.

But yes, to “Anna Karenina”, “Hyde Park on the Hudson” and “Of Rust and Bone.” Those arr MY top three. And today it’s a month until I leave for Montreal, which I go to first, always, before Toronto and which is where I saw “The Artist” for the first time.

In French-speaking Montreal, THAT was the #1 raved about film last year, and I’m soooo glad I saw it there. It was absolutely magical.

As Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone always says “Don’t underestimate Harvey Weinstein” And of course, she’s right.

Sasha also sez “Don’t underestimate Dame Judi Dench.”

SHE’s in the early-part-of-the-year hit film, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” that is continuing to break box-office records on BOTH sides of the Atlantic.So it is not playing Toronto. It’s all and only the new films there, comme tous les jours. And which category will they put Dame J. in? Most think supporting, though she is the lead in that film, certainly, the central character.

“Argo” Ben Affleck’s new film is being heavily buzzed, but they didn’t nominate his “The Town” last time around, so I’m skeptical.

And some of the biggest Oscar contenders are waiting til LATER. Like of course, “Les Miz” and “Lincoln” and Harvey’s “Django Unchained.”

Wish I was already on my way there! J’attends avec impatience!

Video

Scott Cakes! Now a Musical!

The Sweetest spot in Ptown has got to be Scott Cunningham’s DEEE-lliciious bakery, Scott Cakes ,where he is only serving Pink Cupcakes! Owner Scott Cunningham tells us all about a new musical based on this life, entitled what else? “Cupcake!”  I, ever the Oscar Messenger, throw in a few VERY early Oscar predictioins, mais oui! Enjoy!

Police Presence at AMC 34th St. Lines down the block

On my way home last night, I bumped into a policewoman who was on a dinner break, it seemed, and I asked her what is on everyone’s mind i.e. TDKR and she said “There’s a lot of policeman at 34th St.(The AMC W.34th St. in Manhattan) A LOT.”

I thought it would be more likely the AMC at Times Square and she said “No.34th St.” And sure enough as I passed by there on the way home there were many police cars lined up in front of the theater. And also a considerable line of movie goers stretching half way down the block…

And sure enough, at the AMC on Times Sq. I did not see any police cars.

But clearly people are still going to the movies.

Warner Bros. is not releasing the $ totals til tomorrow, but judging by what I could see, there were more people going to see this movie, than well, since “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part 2” when I also witnessed lines down the block…

Warner Bros. is keeping the totals quiet, I think, because it may have made an obscene amount of money this weekend.

And BTW, nothing happened at any of these theaters I chanced by. But for the looks of it at W.34th St. the police THOUGHT something might happen there. But it didn’t. Thank god.

I think the U.S. is still reeling from this tragedy, which gets more heart-breaking as the details of the victims come to light. And there’s still all those people in the hospital in trauma centers and ICUs. And that little six-year-old girl who died…

Meanwhile, Anne Thompson, who I find to be very reliable in these situations tweeted yesterday that she didn’t think it was going to get ANY Oscar nominations “Just the technicals” tweeted Anne. Which is exactly what I thought when this happened. The Academy is going to try to distance itself as much as possible from this tragedy. Not honor it.

The Ghost of Heath Ledger Stalks the Earth

Poor late Heath Ledger. He challenged the gods, if there are any, with his iconic performances in “The Dark Knight” and in “Brokeback Mountain.” We all hoped he could rest in peace, but it seems that is not to be.

The horror that unfolded Thursday night in Colorado, just miles from where the Columbine tragic shooting occurred, was ignited by Heath’s indelible, but deeply disturbing performance of the Joker in TDK. He then died himself not long after. I often thought that that performance killed him. It made him go to a place so dark, he couldn’t come back. He went over the edge, and it was all captured on screen. And made millions and it killed him.

He was shockingly young, as were most of the victims of BOTH Colorado shootings. He was too young to die. His great talent wasted. Drugs were to blame. A lethal concoction of either prescription or illegal substances. We’ll never know. There was a 20-30 min. delay in reporting his death, wherein one presumes, the Tribecca Loft he died in was cleaned up of anything incriminating. But in any case, poor Heath was dead.

But he lives on, especially in those two classic film performances. As Ennis del Mar in “Brokeback” and as the Joker in TDK.

And now this homicidal maniac in Aurora ,Colorado told the police calmly when they came to arrest him, waiting for them casually,  in the Parking Lot of the megaplex where he had just killed a dozen people and injured dozens more, some critically, he told them HE was “The Joker.”

He died his hair orange. However, the Joker’s hair was green. And only red when he wore a red wig in drag with a nurse’s uniform.  The Joker set booby traps as the killer seems to have done in his apartment.

A Ph.d graduate student in neuroscience, it seems he booby-trapped his door and left it unlocked, so that presumably anybody could get blown up, too, if they entered it unknowingly. One woman, a neighbor, disturbed by loud “techno-music” blaring exactly at midnight, as the killer was set to begin his rampage at the movie theater, this woman unknowingly nearly did. But something told her not to try to go in, so she didn’t. And thus saved her own life.

And it’s not just an accident that it was THIS movie that he chose to kill at. There have been big blockbusters all summer long. “The Avengers”, “The Amazing Spiderman” etc. etc. but no. He chose this one. He had been planning this for months, starting to buy guns, legally, it seems, in Colorado, in May as he died his hair orange and began to drop out of school.

We don’t know what made his Phi Beta Kappa mind snap. But snap it did. We may never know.

But he seems obsessed, deathly obsessed with the Batman trilogy, and of course, the Joker in particular. The Joker was the embodiment of evil in a way that perhaps was never depicted on screen before.

How horrible, I kept thinking, for Michelle Williams and also Anne Hathaway, who stars in this film TDKR, which is now going to be linked in the publics’ mind forever with this horrible horrible tragedy.

Michelle has a beautiful little daughter by Heath, the now six-year-old Matilda, who looks EXACTLY like her late father. And Anne Hathaway knew Heath, too, from “Brokeback.” It’s soooo ironic that SHE, of all people, should be the star of this movie. I worry about them all, and my heartfelt best wishes and concern goes out to them.

And the families of the victims who are still identifying the dead.

Marshall Fine, the critic, who received death threats just last week when he wrote the first negative review of TDKR to appear on Rotten Tomatoes, had his website crash and caused Rotten Tomatoes to close their comment section on TDKR, the emails were so heinous, threatening violence. And we can be sure that this avalanche of hatred directed at Fine and Rotten Tomatoes did NOT come from one lone gunman in Colorado. What is going on here???

It’s SOMEthing about this movie that his driving all these people over the edge of sanity. Just like it did poor Heath.

What is it?

I wasn’t wildly a fan of TDK, but I LOVED Heath’s  towering, unforgettable, frightening performance. Filmed during the break-up of his relationship with Michelle Williams, his Joker seemed beyond description. Someone who was totally out of his mind. He was a nightmare come to life. Scary is a way that no other Hollywood villain has ever been. And in a movie based on a comic-book yet.

And hence the Colorado gunman’s identification with the Joker. He has doing in his mind only what the Joker did, I’m sure he thought. And in doing so he would become as famous as the Joker, as famous as Heath Ledger. And unfortunately, he has.

And now 12 people are dead and countless lives maimed or destroyed by this one madman’s two-minute shooting spree, which movie goers all thought was part of the movie.

Until they saw people dying in the seats next to them.

I don’t know that I’ll ever see this movie now.

But anyone who does is not going to be able to shrik the horrible reality of what happened in Aurora, Colorado.

They are all haunted by the Ghost of Heath Ledger, who does not lie quiet in his grave.

Tragedy in Colorado = No Oscar chances for TDKR

The terrible tragedy that just occurred in Colorado is heinous in the extreme. And this film which I will now only refer to by its’ initials TDKR is now tarred forever with this horrible event.

And this is NOT going to play well with the Academy. A film like this positioned as it is as a main Oscar contender come Awards season is NOT going to recover from this. Its’ box-office will take a hit, for sure. Theaters better started including metal detectors. The lawsuits! Warner Brothers, and maybe even Christopher Nolan himself and perhaps the stars of the film all could be subjects of litigation . Running into MILLIONS. And of course, the theater in Colorado will be sued into the ground. I mean, it was their fault, certainly their security’s fault, if they even had any, that this madman got into the building.

And is it the movie itself?

Well, we can only assume that the shooter did not even SEE it, but what he did see was the hype. The massive hype that was surrounding this picture.

Warner Brothers had better back off now. They’ve achieved their goal. The film is on everyone’s lips, but for all the wrong reasons.

And the Academy? Well, let me tell you one thing. They not only shy away from this kind of publicity, they RUN from it.
I have not seen the film, and now I’m so turned off I don’t want to. But I have seen the hype. Who could miss it? And the hype is what got this madman to the theater at that time and on that day!

Best Picture may have just flown out the wind for sure. But I think Christopher Nolan’s possible nod for Best Director is gone for good. The Director’s Branch, which already does not like him. They’ve never nominated him. And now…

I don’t think, as I said, any of the actors will get nominations, not even Anne Hathaway. She’ll be nominated for “Les Miz” MUCH more of an Academy-friendly movie.

I hope this is not the beginning of other copycat crimes, but I can see the public staying away in DROVES, fearing for their own safety.

And I hope Marshall Fine has hired security.

Batman Opens. I stay home.

“The Dark Knight Rises” is opening to the general public in a matter of minutes. The midnight screenings in IMAX are going for $100 a pop. So says the Wall Street Journal. I could care less. I’m glad that people EN MASSE can still get so excited over a movie. But I’m just shrugging it off…

Anyway, I couldn’t get in if I wanted to this weekend it seems it’s TOTALLY sold out!

I can wait.

I didn’t like “The Dark Knight” particularly either. Though of course, the screen just ignited whenever Heath Ledger’s The Joker appeared, and posthumously, he totally deserved his Oscar. Sad. And Frightening.

The only reason I’d want to see this film is Anne Hathaway’s Cat Woman. Oh, and Marion Cotillard’s Miranda Tate, who seems to be Batman’s wife in this.

Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone raved about the two women’s performances, but as I looked over all the Top Critic reviews I could stand on Rotten Tomatoes, NOBODY mentions Annie or Maid Marion except to say they’re THERE.That’s not good for Oscar.

The only one whose buzzing about them is Sasha. Still, there’s “Les Miz” where that TRAILER! That trailer for “Les Miserables” with Annie singing “I Dreamed a Dream” just hits it out of the ballpark! And if Catwoman isn’t an Oscar-ish role, the doomed Fantine in “Les Miz” IS. So Catwoman and the mega-hype and the mega-millions that “The Dark Knight Rises” is going to inevitably make is not going to hurt her Oscar chances, but I don’t think ANYbody in TDKR is going to get Acting Nods for this one. Just based on how the major critics are reacting.

Rex Reed’s review was so negative I couldn’t bare to read it. And of course, there’s the whole Marshall Fine~Death Threats scandal that forced Rotten Tomatoes to close down its’ comments section on TDKR. I am NOT going to go any further into THAT brouhaha, but you can read what Sasha has to say about it at http://www.awardsdaily.com.

I don’t think Marshall Fine will ever be FIRST with a negative review of ANYthing ever again. Oscar Grouch Jeffrey Wells loved it sez Sasha, but again, he, even if it loves something, he spoils it rotten in his reviews, so I guess since I AM going to see this film eventually, I’m just staying away from what everyone has to say as much as one possibly can in this Bat Blitz were going through. Just read the headline captions of the Top Critics at http://www.rottentomatoes.com That tells you everything you need to know, without spoilage.

Me? I wasn’t even INVITED to see it! I did see TDK in IMAX at at press screening, and thought it was too dark and TOOOOO long. But there was wonderful Heath giving a performance for the centuries…

It was like he was having a nervous breakdown and Christopher Nolan(the director) just recorded it. It’s like the camera was pressing him to madness. Or was he just going mad anyway? Poor Heath…

I guess the question is will the Academy having snubbed TDK, which caused SUCH a furor back in the day, will they nominate it NOW? Now that it’s the last one, and it’s finished? Maybe….

They’re NOT nominating it several years back for Best Picture is what caused the Academy to change that category to Ten. Then change it again.

Will they try to make amends now? Well, the overall favorable reviews indicate they just might.

Me? I’ll wait til the stampede of the crowds is over.

This also begs the question ~ Will the Academy FINALLY nominate Christopher Nolan? He’s been snubbed, notoriously, over and over and over again. With only five Best Director slots, will he get in or remain in the Comic Book Ghetto for several years more? Until he does something AWAY from Batman? The fact that the actors and actresses are not being praised(except for Sasha) then I don’t think it will win Best Picture, no matter if it surpasses “The Avengers” which was just total crap-ola.

And “Spiderman”? It’s like it didn’t even open…

And the weather in NYC was back in the heavenly 70s for a most welcome change! It’s been over 100 one way or the other for what seems like a month!

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