a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for December, 2012

Oscar Audience Applauds, Cries & Cheers for “Les Miz”!

Ok. It’s my SECOND time seeing the masterpiece of masterpieces that is “Les Miserables.” I was soooo overwhelmed the first time I saw it, I couldn’t write anything about it, but now on my SECOND viewing more than a week later, I’m able to pull myself together and focus enough to tell you, yes, it’s THAT good! It’s my Best Film Of the Year! Maybe one of the Best Films Ever Made! Certainly the Best Movie Musical Ever Made!

My hero, Tom Hooper, has once again done the impossible! He’s topped his Oscar-winning “The King’s Speech” with an even more moving movie movie! Astonishing, but true! “Les Miserables” is a rapture.

“Les Miz” is what a great movie should be. Rousing, enthralling, epic, unbelievably effecting. And the cast! AND THE MUSIC! Song after song after unforgettably classic song! I never wanted it to end!

I’ve always LOVED Hugh Jackman, but after seeing his heart-breaking, grounding-breaking achievement as Jean Valjean, I admire him deeply as an artist. And a singing one at that. With a voice I’ve never heard him use before, especially in the upper registers of “Bring Him Home” which has high notes that not many male singers can hit.

“Bring Him Home” got applause. Anne Hathaway’s heart-rending “I Dreamed a Dream” got applause and she just got nominated today for a Golden Globe Award, as did Hugh Jackman. They also doubled that in the SAG award nominations and tripled it in the Broadcast Film Critics earlier this week. If they three-peat, than an Oscar nom is probably certain, too.

But back to tonight’s audience. They applauded Anne’s ” I Dreamed a Dream,” then “One Day More,” then “Bring Him Home,” then Eddie Redmayne’s “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables”. Interestingly they didn’t applaud at the end of “On My Own.” Maybe all that rain that newcomer Samantha Barks as Eponine has to sing in THROUGH THE ENTIRE SONG, was just too much. It was for me. And then at the end in her penultimate moment on the barricades, she is also suddenly inexplicably rain-dappled. When everyone else is dry.Did director Hooper feel she NEEDED All.That.Rain.? IDK.

But why find fault when there is soooo much wonderfulness to be recommended?

I Loved It! I Loved It! I LOVED IT!

It’s just relentless as it builds to the climax, which is shattering beyond belief. The academy audience, mixed with press, that I saw it with, applauded Tom Hooper’s name when it came up on the credits. And also Hugh Jackman. The applause sustained through Russell Crowe’s name, then erupted in cheers when Anne Hathaway’s name appeared. Died down again until Eddie Redmayne’s name appeared, when there again were cheers. And at the end bravos as the audience was standing. I’ve never seen such an ecstatic reception of a movie IN MY LIFE! How can it not win Best Picture?

When does this happen? NEVER! Not at the movies. It was like they were all on Broadway watching the best show ever. There is a moment as it ends, where the audience is literally crying en masse during the last number. I’m not exaggerating. And I was crying too.

I was crying MORE the first time I saw it.I never cried so much at a movie in all my life, and I kept crying until the end, but the second time, I started crying, too. When Enjolras(a tremendous Aaron Tveit) is singing “Red, the blood of angry men, Black, the dark of ages past….” .

It was all such a glorious surprise the first time.I left in a state of absolute wonder. Utter cinematic euphoria. A dream was coming true.

And the Dream Lives, as the ad says, this Christmas.

SAG Nominations Shock! Nicole Kidman IN, Ann Dowd Out!

Dear Readers, dear cineastes, so shocked this morning and saddened with the announcement of the SAG nominations! The supposedly venerable Screen Actors’ Guild chose to nominate Nicole Kidman in her rather dirty and low down turn as a Southern-Fried bimbo, in the worse than worst “The Paperboy.” Instead of the great Ann Dowd for “Compliance”!

This, after Time Magazine said, “The Dowd vote is the cool vote” in this week’s Oscar projections!

Nicole Kidman is many things, but cool, right now, is like not one of them. She performs a umnentionable and disgusting act upon Zac Efron, and it’s something that the Academy in all its’ snobbish glory will NOT reward. A similar unbelievably gross moment occurred with Michael Fassbender faced upstage and let it, er, flow. I KNOW that’s what knocked him out of Oscar contention, which shocked many, but not ME! Nicole will follow down that, er, drain.

The SAGs are really getting knocked around this morning with all the media outlets leading with Nicole Kidman and “The Paperboy” story.  It’s everywhere. I don’t think the Academy will follow suit. And Nicole SHAME ON YOU, AN ACADEMY AWARD WINNER doing something like this! That movie was bad enough, but you’ll never live that unmentionable act down. Way to ruin a career, girl.

Also IN was Dame Maggie Smith for “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” in Supporting. Rounding out that category were the expecteds ~ Anne Hathaway in “Les Mis”, Helen Hunt in “The Sessions” and Sally Field in “Lincoln.” Of the four ladies nominated, Smith(2 Oscars), Hunt(One), Field, (two Oscars) and Kidman(One). Only Anne Hathaway does not have an Oscar yet. But she probably will soon.

“Les Miserables”, “Lincoln’. “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Argo” were all chosen as Best Ensemble, which is SAGs way of saying “Best Picture.”

They are NOT wildly accurate Oscar predictors. Esp. not last year when Best Ensemble went to “The Help” and Best Actress for Viola Davis.

They were WAAAAAY off. But they do indicate trends.

Like the absence of “Life of Pi” and also “Zero Dark Thirty” is significant, I think. So that means that “Les Miz”, “Lincoln”, “Argo” and “Silver Linings Playbook” (say THAT fast, three times!) are really the presumptive and eventual Best Picture winners.”Best Exotic…” may very well be nominated for Best Picture, too. But it won’t get Best Director. BTW, there are no Best Director awards from SAG. It’s the Screen ACTORS Guild and as far as Actors are concerned…well, this is one night that’s THEIRS and they get to leave the directors home.

While both NY critics groups, the NYFCC and the NBR went with “Zero Dark Thirty” and the LA Film Critics went with “Amour” NEITHER of these films cracked the top five and ZDT had only one mention Jessica Chastain as Best Actress.

And as I predicted there was also no Emmanuelle Riva nomination for “Amour” and Qu’venshane Wallis was deemed ineligible as was Dwight Henry for “Beasts of the Southern Wild”. So Best Actress included Chastain, supposedly front-runner Jennifer Lawrence for “Silver Linings Playbook”, Helen Mirren for “Hitchcock”(YAY!) and Naomi Watts for “The Impossible” a tsunami movie where she has virtually no dialogue and just grunts and groans and screams for the whole movie. And my lovely Marion Cotillard got in for ANOTHER French language film of “Rust and Bone” and Marion, bonne pour vous!

Bradley Cooper surprised me by landing a Best Actor nomination for SLP, knocking Joaquim Phoenix out of the mix, as I well thought he would be. People haven’t forgotten those remarks he made. As well they shouldn’t. And Sir Anthony Hopkins, who also dissed the Awards Circuit as “disgusting” was also notably left out for “Hitchcock” though Dame Helen Mirren got in. YAY!

I’m reading Steve Rebello’s excellent account of “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of ‘Pysho'” right now. It’s a real page turner! Love it! Sooo glad for Dame Helen.

The rest of the Best Actor category contained Daniel Day Lewis for “Lincoln”, Denzel Washington for “Flight”, Jon Hawkes for “The Sessions” and the magnificent Hugh Jackman for the magnificent “Les Miserables.”

No Supp. Actor nominees from “Les Miz” but they were Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the ONLY nominee for “The Master”, Tommy Lee Jones for “Lincoln”, Alan Arkin for “Argo”, Robert De Niro for “Silver Linings Playbook” and Javier Bardem for “Skyfall” ALLLLL of whom already HAVE at least one Oscar(DeNiro has two). I don’t think there’s ever been a playing field with ONLY previous winners. If Eddie Redmayne knocks out Bardem, Redmayne is soooo stunning in “Les Miz”, then he’d be the newbie but as it stands, it’s all oldies but goodies in this category.

Left out completely were end of year openers “Django Unchained” and “The Hobbit”. Either their late openings did them in or they just simply weren’t liked.

 

“Zero Dark Thirty”, Jessica Chastain & Ann Dowd Win National Board of Review!

It’s been one of the most intense Oscar Weeks(unofficially of course) I’ve ever experienced in that alllll most all of the major films hit me this past week AND Ann Dowd who was just a guest on my show (see below) won Best Supporting Actress from the National Board of Review! Phew! WHAT A WEEK!

And it was only last Monday that the New York Film Critics announced, and so having that to deal with ,and then seeing “Les Miserables,” which I went to with Ann Dowd(!?!), and then attending “The Hobbit” press conference the next morning at the Wal-dwarf Astoria, and then Ann  winning the National Board Award, while I was out seeing “Zero Dark Thirty”, so I didn’t find out til that evening, and then seeing the new “Hobbit” in 48 fps(frames per second) ALL IN ONE WEEK!!! Or was that just three days?!?WOWOW!!!

So you can see why I haven’t posted anything, dear cineastes, dear readers, until now. One has to pause sometimes, for breath, for clarity to sink in, and with so much happening, and my 25th Anniversary party of being on the air continuously since Dec.7, 1988, well….it was all just too much to absorb. Let alone have a quiet moment to sit down and write about it…

Yes, dear readers, sometimes you do have to DO THE WORK! And alllll these movies are nearly three hours!

And then, Ann, who was my “Les Miz” date, winning this INCREDIBLY important award, the next day!!!

Well, it’s all been overwhelming!!!

And if I’M overwhelmed, you can only imagine how Ann Dowd is feeling with all this excitement happening to her.”Over the moon,” is how she herself described it to me. “I’m beside myself.”

The National Board of Review win for her in Best Supporting Actress(even though she’s the lead) in “Compliance” means the world for her and her career. It really was a life-changing moment. And she’ll literally will never be unknown again.

The NBR has catapulted her into the middle of the Oscar Conversation now. EVERYBODY was writing about and absorbing the NYFCC and the NBR wins and now they all have to mention Ann and take her one-woman Oscar campaign VERY, VERY seriously. I’ve helped as best I can. I feel like I’ve gone into the Ann Dowd business, but I love helping her, and we’ve become friends. And no, I didn’t know her before the Opening Night of “Compliance” in New York.

I aired her great interview on “The Stephen Holt Show” twice, this past Friday and the Friday before. www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow and was happy to do so. I hope I am conveying the excitement that being INSIDE the Oscar Race and really dealing with it on a day to day basis is like to you, my dear readers, dear cineastes all.

Both the NYFCC and the NBR are New York based awards, and since they announce first they give clarity to the season, in very concrete ways. And BOTH groups gave Best Picture and Best Director to the movie I was seeing when the NBR was announced “Zero Dark Thirty”. And the NBR gave Jessica Chastain Best Actress, too.I know Jessica, too, since she was a student at Juilliard about 7 years ago.

So one thing that happened with these two major award announcements is that now “Zero Dark Thirty” a film that was not seen or screened until RIGHT NOW is now the purported front-runner. And so is Kathryn Bigelow for Best Director.

I loved “The Hurt Locker,” for the record, Ms. Bigelow’s last film and was thrilled when it won the Oscar for Best Picture, despite having a low box-office, and of course, it gave her the honor of being the first woman to ever win an Oscar for Best Director.

But “Zero Dark Thirty” is a MUCH more difficult film to sit through.

It’s incredibly shocking, at the beginning, and then for what seems like two hours, but probably more like an hour and a half, it settles down into being a VERY boring procedural on just how this single-minded woman named Maya(fictional name, but a real person)played by Jessica Chastain, goes about doggedly pursuing Osama Bin Laden.

It’s over-long and it’s BOR-RING, but then when the incredibly exciting ending appears FINALLY, the film takes off into the stratosphere of excitement.

But there’s that VERY boring middle section that takes up half the film. I wonder, I really wonder, if audiences are going to sit through that en masse. The pay-off is big at the end. But this impresses me as being a critics movie more than an audience movie. And I’m frankly shocked, SHOCKED that it won so many awards this week.

It does also make “Argo” seem like a cartoon, I’m sorry to say. “ZDT” is much more serious-minded and nowhere near as entertaining as “Argo” is. “Argo” seems to have dropped off everyone’s radar. It will be interesting to see if the LA Film Critics annoint “Zero Dark Thirty” AGAIN when they announce later today.

This is reminding me of “The Social Network” all over again. Which won all the critics awards and then “The King’s Speech” turned everything around and won all the REAL awards, if any awards are realer than the others. Well, in terms of Oscar, the DGA, the PGA, SAG and even the Golden Globes are all much more clearer as Oscar precursors that the two New York critics groups that I’m writing about right now.

Me? I LOVED “Les Miserables” and what an incredible experience seeing it with Ann Dowd! We both sat there crying our eyes out for what seemed like, again, three hours. I don’t think I’ve ever been that deeply moved by a movie, since well, “The King’s Speech” actually, which “Les Miserables” reminded me of. And why? Well they were both directed by the brilliant Tom Hooper.

“Les Miz” I could go on and on, but let me just say that it’s now my Best Film of the Year and one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen and should garner more Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Director, Actor(Hugh Jackman), Best Supp. Actor(Eddie Redmayne), Best Supp. Actress(Anne Hathaway) and on and on and on, than maybe any other film in Academy history. It’s this year’s “King’s Speech” And could turn everything around on “Zero Dark Thirty” the way “The King’s Speech” did on “The Social Network.” But more on all this SOON. Very SOON!

Rachel Weisz Wins Best Actress in Surprise Vote from the NYFCC!

There were several BIG surprises when the New York Film Critics Circle, after five reportedly contentious hours of voting, announced their winners.

Biggest among them was the shockeroo of Matthew McConaughey winning Best Supporting Actor for “Bernie” and “Magic Mike”!?!

When I saw that stat come up I could NOT take the rest of their voting seriously. First of all, both films are comedies, and second MMcC. was not THAT good in either.

I saw “Bernie” recently on a DVD screener I was sent and his performance as the Sheriff of the town in question barely registered with me. It was adequate. Just barely. And speaking of barely!

“Magic Mike”!?!? Are they kidding?!?!

That film was barely watchable and NOT because it was about male strippers…I think they did the subject a disservice. If that’s even possible.

They were all gorgeous to look at, natch, but boy! When they started to ACT!?! And that includes YOU Mr.McC! Oy vay! Bad acting at that magnitude = boredom. This film that I really thought I was the target audience for,  put me to sleep.

And it wasn’t the stripping. It was the rest of the film. And, oh yeah, male strippers are all straight. I don’t think so.

Dull, dull, duh….

However Rachel Weisz beating out the touted “front-runners” Jennifer Lawrence of “Silver Linings Playbook” and Jessica Chastain of “Zero Dark Thirty.” I REALLY thought that they were either of them going to take this, but o no, they dinn’t. So much for punditry. I don’t think J. Law is going to get ANY of these critics prizes coming up. I don’t think she’ll get the LA Film Critics and don’t think the National Board of Review will go with her, either. I wouldn’t be surprised if Marion Cotillard or Emmnuelle Riva turned up in either race.

And Rachel Weisz’ performance was superb. I loved that movie “The Deep Blue Sea” and I loved her in it. I saw it at Toronto TWO years ago! And interviewed rising co-star Tom Hiddleston, and the wonderful director Terence Davies. I even got to connect with Terence AGAIN in NYC. But neither time I did I to talk to the magnificent Rachel Weisz.

I really look forward to connecting with this super-smart Oscar winner for “The Constant Gardener” some day.  I know it seems to you all that I’ve interviewed EVERYBODY in show business at this point, as my TV show nears its’ 25th year…Yes, it’s true…I can’t believe it myself…*sigh*

But I wonder if this will catapult her into the actual Oscar Bactress race itself, though…The Hollywood Reporter wisely included her in their Best Actress Roundtable, and Scott Feinberg had her in his “A Few Minutes with Feinberg” in the Race section of http://www.thehollywoodreporter.com. He also had Matthew McC. come to think of it…

I can’t believe I’m writing about Rachel Weisz and Matthew McConaughey in the same sentence!

Next up the National Board of Review. They’re choices are always….well, gay-er than springtime, as is their membership. So I look forward to that. If Matthew McConaughey wins THERE, TOO! Uh-OH!

Matthew McConaughey over Phillip Seymour Hoffman?!? I just don’t believe it.

ANOTHER surprise was their awarding Katherine Bigelow best director for “Zero Dark Thirty.” Which won the Top Honor, Best Picture, and also Best Cinematography, too. I see that in two days. I see “Les Miserables” FINALLY tomorrow! Can’t wait!

Ann Dowd wins Indie Spirit Nom! Will she win NYFCC this AM?

This past Tuesday Oscar Dark Horse Ann Dowd won the Indie Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for “Compliance.” Then Scott Feinberg of http://www.thehollywoodreporter.com listed her FIRST in his “A Few Minutes with Feinberg” video last night, and this morning(!) Gold Derby has one of its’ Derby Pundits predicting her to win the New York Film Critics Circle Award today!

The NYFCC starts its’ voting at 10Am this morning. Thelma Adams is one of their critics who has appeared on my show “The Stephen Holt Show” last year at the Toronto Film Festival. You can search for her video in the search box at http://www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow. And my two part interview with Ann Dowd, the woman of the hour is also there.

Gold Derby, of course, is http://www.goldderby.com That’s with two “D”s in the address!

And according to GD’s few pundits who are predicting the NYFCC this morning they think it’s “Zero Dark Thirty” Daniel Day Lewis, Jessica Chastain, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman in the other categories.

They finish by 3pm. I think they meet historically at Sardi’s and you can, again, check out Gold Derby for a link to the NYFCC website.

I’m so bad with links, myself, so just go there and Gold Derby will tell you all you need to know.

Video

My First Famous Interview with Marion Cotillard

This is the first,famous interview I did with the magnificent Marion Cotillard when she first came to the US to promote “La Vie En Rose” in May 2007, which of course eventually won her the Oscar. When I met her again at the Gothams on Monday, and she ran across the press room to kiss & hug me, THIS is the interview that she was talking about!

Marion Cotillard Kisses Me at the Gotham Awards!

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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