a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

TIFF is SUCH a leveler. And always a surprise,too. Coming out of “Quartet,” one of the hottest tickets in town, was not only a VERY major Oscar chance at Best Actress for Dame Maggie Smith, but also for her supporting co-star, the other female member of the titular quartet of ex-Opera singers, Pauline Collins.

Collins dithers delightfully, and has alllll the audiences’ sympathy in the big, soon-to-be-infamous “Flower Scene” with Dame Maggie. I will say no more.It’s a massive spoiler. Once that scene happened I knew “Oscar Nomination for Pauline in Supporting.”

She’s been nominated before, too. For Best Actress, a number of years back, for “Shirley Valentine” and so she’s no stranger to Oscar.

A very solid supporting turn is done by Willliam H. Macy in “The Sessions” as a conflicted Catholic priest, who has to listen to all of the FOR SURE ROCK SOLID BEST ACTOR NOMINEE John Hawkes’ awkward sexual confesstions. It’s comic, but he’s very good (he always is) and I don’t think he’s even been nominated before. Shame, Academy, shame…Unless it was for “Fargo” many moons ago…

Jude Law in “Anna Karenina” is a shoo-in for a Supp. Actor nod, and maybe even a win, as his almost unrecognizable turn as Anna’s dull-as-paint husband Karenin. He shaved his hairline back and wears tiny little specatacles that transform his face entirely. And his performance as a stiff, repressed beaureaucrat ,who is boring  his wife Anna to tears, never bores the audience. No mean feat.

Then we have the always nominatable Phillp Seymour Hoffman, in what is really a lead, in “The Master.” The Venice Film Festival jury gave both Hoffmand and co-star Joaquin Phoenix a joint Best Actor Award.

Also finding herself in the Supporting category may be a surprised and always naked Helen Hunt, who thought she was playing a lead in “The Sessions.”Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone always points out how the Academy always awards female nudity and no one, believe me, NO ONE has ever shown so much of herself onscreen as Helen Hunt does as a sex “worker” in this terrific tearjerker about a man in an iron lung (Hawkes) who wants to finally experience sex before he dies. He does. And he does. And that’s the plot of “The Seesions.”

And from earlier in the year, before the essential TIFF-winnowing, we have both Dame Maggie Smith(yes, HER again) and her Downtown Abbey co-star Penelope Wilton in the box-office/senior citizen smash “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”both being giving campaigns from Fox Seachlight in Supporting. And so is Bill Nighy for that film.

Don’t know whether they’ve dropped Dwight Henry off their campaign roster for this excellent non-actor’s first ever performances as Qu’venzhane Wallis, dead beat dad in “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

And last but not least, let’s not overlook Michael Pena’s fine, fine work in the police actioner “End of Watch.” He could be this year’s Demian Bechir.

I happened to watch the just-dropped “Lincoln” trailer today. Once, first, without sound, and then again tonight with it. And at first I thought all those early Oscar predictions of Tom O’Neil’s crew at “Gold Derby” nevermind “The Gurus o’ Gold”‘ were right on…then WITH the sound, everybody’s voices sounded WRONG. Esp. Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln! He looks great but sounds like a baseball player! Brad Pitt in “Moneyball!”

If it looks like they’re hiding DDL in the trailer, they ARE!

Let us not forget “War Horse” and the great trailer that promised so much….and then gave us…well, not that much.

Just like “Munich”! Spielberg’s next-to-last Oscar foray.

Uh-oh!

Snoring and pretentious and over-hyped. Here we go again!

I thought we just went through this last year!

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