a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

The highpoint of the Gotham Awards was a very personal one for me as  the major honoree of the night, Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard,  suddenly ran across the entire press room, and to much to my great surprise and delight began to hug and kiss me in an Olympian embrace that seemed to go on forever! Flash bulbs were popping like crazy, but I have yet to get a picture of this historic moment!

“You were one of the first people I talked to(when she came to America to publicize “La Vie En Rose”)! It’s been sooo long! We had sooo much fun talking!” she gushed. Oh mon dieu!

Talk about sublime! Of course I never wanted this Kodak moment of moments to end, but it did when I finally put both my both hands around her waist(it’s tiny) and said “I feel like I just won an Oscar! And YOU’RE the Oscar!”

The beauteous Marion was being honored for her tremendous portrayal of a paraplegic in the French film “Rust and Bone” or “De Rouille et d’Os” en francais.

I saw it at TIFF where I famously got up at 5:30AM to make an 8:45am screening. Thankfully, there wasn’t a line and I was VERY early and everyone had already gone inside the TIFF Bell Lightbox and sat down.

It’s a heart-wrenching movie, and Marion’s character,Stephenie,is at the start of the film, a sassy biker chick who is a killer-whale trainer in a Sea-World like arena in the South of French. Then one of her whales attacks her and bites her legs off.

“Rust and Bone” by Jacques Audiard (“The Prophet”) presents a world that tourists never see when they venture to the Riviera. It’s the hard-scrablle under-class that Marion’s character comes from and where she meets at a Disco( the soon-to-be-a-tremendous star himself) Matthias Schoenearts, a homeless would-be boxer and his young son. And after  her horrific accident, an unlikely romance ensues.

Marion’s performance in”Rust and Bone” was as tough as it was tender.

And that’s how I felt too, at the Gotham awards.

Every interview was a fight. The Red Carpet line looked like a mosh pit. And the press room, where I was much more comfortably situated for most of the proceedings, was like that, too.

Aggressive journos armed with seemingly harmless tape-recorders, pushed and shoved and monopolized the celebs who fearfully looked like they were wandering into a bear-baiting pit. AND THEY WERE. It was sad to see the Gothams turn into, well, into just like everywhere else. It’s an out of control jungle and you wonder how the stars navigate it. Nevermind stand for it.

Except when a cinema goddess like Marion Cotillard parts the shark-filled waters, makes everyone stand back, and well, kisses just YOU! As the jealous hordes seethed around us…well, then all that other enervating mess is suddenly worth it!

I definitely felt like Marion was after her second Oscar and y’know, she’s so sweet and charming, and her bare bones, vanity-free performance in “Rust and Bone” was so powerful & so touching, she just might get it!

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