a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for September, 2012

Post-TIFF ~ SUDDENLY, So many predictions about “Silver Linings”! But TIFF isn’t the Academy, folks!

TIFF only ended on Sunday, but it’s Oscar after-effects ripple on. The announcement that “Silver Linings Playbook” won the prestigious People’s Choice Award sent Oscar pundits and Oscarologists  (is there any difference?) running for the hills. And ALLLL of them suddenly putting “SLP” in their #1 position, when this was hardly the case way back when, say, on SATURDAY!

The Oscar pick’em race turns on a dime, and it certainly just did. AND NOBODY was predicting Jennifer Lawrence would win Best Actress “out front by a mile” as Tom O’Neill put it in two podcasts ~ one which he did with Sasha Stone and Jeffrey Wells, who barely let him, the Granddaddy of all Oscar prognosticators barely get a word in edgewise! No really! But Tom was very good-humored about it.

He, who did not even get to TIFF this year. Sasha has never been. And of course, Jeff Wells was VERY MUCH there.As you’ll see when my terrific interview with him comes out shortly at http://www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow.

Sasha, of course, is at http://www.awardsdaily.com and Jeffrey holds forth at http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com

Jeff fell, as I did, and fell HARD, for “Anna Karenina”, and he was outraged, just outraged, as I was too, and still am, by Manohla Dargis’s dismissal of “Anna Karenina” as “a travesty,” and she also calls the divine Keira Knightley’s great performance “miscast. ” and what is soooo galling is that this is in the NYTIMES! Jeff was hopping mad about this. APOPLECTIC! and I am, too! So much so he barely let poor SASHA even get a word in on her own podcast!

Conversely, Tom O’Neil and Pete Hammond barely discussed Keira Knightley’s performance or “Anna Karenina” at ALL! THEY were all about Jennifer Lawrence although Pete Hammond cautioned “It’s early yet.” They can be found at http://www.goldderby.com

All I can think of is the year when “Sideways” won the People’s Choice Award at Toronto, too. It got a lot of nominations, but it lost Best Picture. I’m also thinking of George Clooney’s starrer “Up in the Air” and also just this year’s past “The Descendants” both Toronto Hits, though not People’s Choice winners.

They were, however, raved and raved and raved about out of Toronto and all season long, and then…The Air Went Out. Of Both Of Them. Almost like clockwork. And George was certainly being championed as Best Actor, too. And both times, it didn’t happen. Last year, the Little Golden Guy went to Jean Dujardin for “The Artist.” Face it, George, you’re just never going to win Oscar #2.

Interestingly, “The Artist” was also at TIFF(and at Montreal AND at the New York Film Festival) but didn’t win the People’s Choice Award, or even come in second. But of course, it did win the Oscar.

And as Harvey W. would say regarding the Academy Voters “These are the ones that count.” So just because some film has won big in Toronto, doesn’t mean it’s also going to be embraced by the Academy. Oh no. Not by a long shot.

And Jennifer Lawrence? Well, I haven’t yet seen “Silver Lining’s Playbook,” but I’m not a fan. Her flat performance in “X-Men” coupled with her execrable under-acting(non-acting to me) Academy Nominated turn(she barely moved) in “Winter’s Bone” turned me off her in a very big way. I didn’t even bother to go to see “The Hunger Games” because she was starring in it.

Bland, bland, bland. Flat and bland. Curvaceous, attractive by any and all Old Hollywood or even New Hollywood standards, to be sure. She’s pretty. Ok. I’ll give her that. But I have yet to see her be anything other than sub-par. Jennifer, I’m waiting.*sounds of my foot tapping*

But with all these critical hurrahs she’s now receiving, I guess, in the case of “Silver Linings Playbook”, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt. I certainly am looking forward to seeing it and seeing what all this fuss was SUDDENLY about.

I was certainly tracking the Best Actress contenders in earnest at Toronto. I got up at 5:30 AM to make a 8:45am screening of Marion Cotillard in “Rust and Bone” and the  otherworldly, magnifique Marion did not disappoint my Best Efforts.. Neither did the lovely,understated, shy mouse of Laura Linney in “Hyde Park on the Hudson”, or Helen Hunt, the VERY naked and full frontal sex surrogate  in “The Sessions,” the sublime,tormented  Keira Knightley as “Anna Karenina,” and last but not least, Dame Maggie Smith’s all out Oscar-bait turn as an aging Opera Diva in “Quartet.”

Not ONE person in Toronto. NOT ONE, mentioned to me I should see Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook’! NOT ONE! And I was listening…In fact nobody recommended “Silver Linings Playbook” to me at all. NO BODY! And then, BAM, out of nowhere this award! And then all these predictions! On Saturday…nobody was predicting her.

As Laura Linney said to me about all this Oscar madness “I take them with a grain of salt. You have to.”

I think all of this took the Weinstein Co. by surprise, too. During TIFF the #1 film was “The Master” Remember “The Master”? THAT’S what they were pushing, NOT “Silver Linings Playbook.” Now “The Master” is a SUDDEN #3, behind “SLP” and “Argo.”

And on the other side of the gender divide ~Is it Joaquim Phoenix in “The Master” or is it Daniel Day Lewis in “Lincoln”, or is it the much more sympathetic John Hawkes in “The Sessions”? I think the jury is really out on that category and you all KNOW how the Academy relates to Comedies, which the “Silver Linings Playbook” seems to be.

I’ll let you know MY take on all this as soon as I see the remaining films. You can’t write the story of 2012 when Oscar seekers like “Les Miserables”, “Lincoln”, “Zero Dark Thirty””Django Unchained” and “The Hobbit” are all still unseen.

In that case, the person I feel most in agreement with is Pete Hammond of http://www.deadline.com !

It’s not over until the Fat Lady(or in the case of Dame Maggie Smith in “Quartet”) the Thin Lady Sings!

A Montreal Film Festival 2012 Moment & My Debut on Italian TV!

A Montreal 2012 Memory via Roman TV! Thank you Mariangiola Castrovilli! Who also happens to be a regular on my show for years and years! She got me in Montreal, but we missed each other in Toronto 2012!

And the name of the director I was mis-remembering was Dheeraj Akolkar, and this is his first film! And it’s also being shown in the upcoming New York Film Festival!

“Silver Linings Playbook” Wins Audience Choice Award at TIFF. Harvey W. officially has hands full once again!

“The Silver Linings Playbook” just won the Audience Choice award at TIFF. VERY significant in such an Oscar-packed TIFF field this year! And now Harvey has ANOTHER front-runner on his hands!

With the win, “Silver Linings” stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence must now be considered VERY seriously in the Best Actor and Actress categories for Oscar this year. But wait! Harvey & the Weinstein Co. also have Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman in that category for “The Master.”

Harvey, I once heard, has this unwritten rule “One in Each Category” and this year he’s now got THREE leading men in a category that only contains five slots!

Best Picture is going to be like last year with a maximum of ten. But the Best Actor categories and Best Director alll stay at five. So will these three leading men for TWC cancel each other out and leave an opening for the superior John Hawkes in “The Sessions” or even more likely Hugh Jackman in “Les Miz”?

That’s assuming, too, that the Academy is laughing as hard as I am at the Disney Amniatronic performances in the just-released trailer of “Lincoln.” Is it just me or has any such highly anticpated a film had such a lumpen trailer?

Of course, you can’t judge a film by its’ trailer, but still…Watching that is like watching a History Channel doc. But they’re MORE INTERESTING! Yikes! What a misstep!

TIFF ads names to Supp.Oscar Race & “Lincoln” trailer sounds WRONG!

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!

Oscar Races Explode at TIFF! Dame Maggie, Keira, Marion,Laura Linney square off!

As TIFF winds down, I’m back already in NYC, and finally at a stationary  location, where I can tell you all about it! Came back on Amtrak yesterday and ran into Super Critic Thelma Adams (of all people!) on the train, too,  who had a LOT to say about the goings on in the Best Actress race at TIFF. I’ll let the great Thelma speak for herself. Check her out on www.yahoo.com these days. Or at her own website.

My take? Well, Dame Maggie Smith came out of TIFF on Sunday night smelling like an Oscar rose with the triumphant reception of the Weinstein Co.’s “Quartet.” Dame Maggie, who is an unbelievably vital 80(!) wowed the crowd, I understand. I saw director Dustin Hoffman(of all people) equally receive bravos and the most heartfelt, loudest and longest ovation, I’ve ever heard or seen at TIFF ~ BEFORE A MOVIE! Yes, he introduced it and Dame Maggie and co-star Pauline Collins, had already returned to the UK, I guess, but Billy Connolly and Tom Courtenay were there to receive the huzzahs at the screening I caught on Monday, the day before I left.

However, it’s Dame Maggie’s film all the way. And as for Oscar? By George, I think she’s got it. Playing a VERY temperamental and disliked retired Opera Diva being sent into a retirement home that looks like Downton Abbey, Dame Maggie pulls out all the stops and shows why she is STILL one of our greatest leading actresses.

With two previous Oscar wins, could she possibly snag a third a la Meryl Streep last year? And like last year, she has the greatest secret weapon of Best Actress upset winners, HARVEY WEINSTEIN(!?!) behind her! How can she lose?

Well, Fox Searchlight as I’ve said earlier is positioning Dame Judi Dench(they’re VERY close friends IRL) opposite her in Best Actress from “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and if they both make it into the nominations’ circle, the Dames could cancel each other out. Dame Judi has an Oscar already, too. For “Shakespeare in Love” In Supporting. For eight minutes onscreen. But stil…

AND Dame Maggie has ANOTHER campaign on her behalf going for her. “Best Exotic Marigold”s Fox Searchlight is going for a Supporting Actress nomination for that film where she is playing a crotchety Cockney retiree. So she may get TWO Oscar nominations this year! PLUS the beloved “Downton Abbey” mojo, and Dame Maggie has Oscar buzz galore.

However, if the two Dames DO cancel each other out, who else is there? Well, suddenly after TIFF, there’s a LOT. Most especially Keira Knightley’s magnificent, unforgettable “Anna Karenina” which may also garner nominations in every single category available, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay(Tom Stoppard), Best Supporting Actor(Jude Law) Best Costumes(a cinch), Best Sets(natch) Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Score. Best Everything, basically.

And “Quartet” won’t have that across the categories support…It’s corny as hell. But Dame Maggie and also Pauline Collins are super superb.

And there’s Marion Cotillard’s bone-crushing, heart-breaking “Rust and Bone” and back to the spring 9-year-old Qu’venzhane Wallis seems a shoo-in. Yes, even Thelma thought so. I guess I can reveal that.

Also well received is Jennifer Lawrence(yes, HER again) in “Silver Linings Playbook” which is something I haven’t seen. The only one actually, of all the best actress contenders…But since Marion Cotillard is without make-up, without hair-styling, and without legs in “Rust and Bone” I think SHE’S got the heart-breaking edge, over any comic performance.

And lastly, I have to mention the beloved Laura Linney’s understated, muted turn in “Hyde Park on the Hudson” underplaying a “little grey wren” to perfection against Bill Murray’s larger than life FDR. But does the Academy ever go for subtle and quite as Scott Feinberg posited in his Oscar review from Telluride at http://www.thehollywoodreporter.com ? They all LOVE Laura, so it’s possible.

And Dame Maggie has TWO Oscars ~ so far. But if I know Harvey Weinstein, she could can a third! But it’s a level playing field between these great ladies, and Qu’venzhane Wallis, too. They should ALL win!

At TIFF ’12 ~ Breaking Oscar News! Helen H. goes Supporting! Judi Dench in lead!

I’m at TIFF 2012, for the 14th year in a row, and there’s more crazed, frenziedness than ever. AND NEWS, TOO! Oscar news! Fox Searchlight is putting Helen Hunt in the Supporting Category for what is really a lead performance in “The Sessions.”!?! I felt sure the line-up would be Marion Cotillard for “Rust and Bone” which I saw yesterday at 8:45am!

Here you have to get up at 5:30am in the morning on some days or you’re just lost!

And continuing on, Helen Hunt in “Sessions” which now going to  be campaigned in Supporting by Fox Searchlight, who is running Qu’venzhane Wallis as Best Actress for sure. We knew that.

But also, NEWSFLASH, Dame Judi Dench for HER beautiful portrayal in the box-office bonanze from the spring “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”! And THAT IS a lead performance.

And also we have Anne Dowd from “Compliance” which everyone up here is like wha-? They’re not getting “Compliance” up here at TIFF.

But what they ARE getting is Keira Knightley’s beautiful “Anna Karenina.” If it’s two previous winners, say Dame Judi and Maid Marion, Qu’venzhane, who will be 9 when the Oscars roll around, and Ann Dowd, I think the bravura Career Best of Keira who has never won would be the winner in that pack. Pack? It’s a bevy of beauties of all ages, and races!

I saw “Rust and Bone”, “Anna Karenina” and “The Sessions” all yesterday and today! My mind is just blown by the quality and quantity of these great roles for great actresses! TIFF rules as always…

And on the other side of the fence, easily the most anticipated film “The Master” is something that I am unfortunately not going to fit into my schedule! Unbelievable, but true.

Word on Joaquin Phonenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman is terrific, but divided on the film. I’m only here until Tuesday morning traveling back to New York on my dearly beloved Amtrak…Just a train lover at heart, what am I to do?

My new cell phone didn’t work up north here, so thank GOD I’ve got my trusty new little Acer and I’ve figured out how to type on it without deleting everything!

 

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