a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for February, 2013

Oscar Thinking and Re-Thinking About Ann Dowd

I guess any of you who have been following my blog and my web-series, never mind my TV series, know that this particular Oscar season I was more involved than I ever was in my whole Oscar-obsessed life.

True, I’ve been doing this since I was a kid. Basically since I could write.

And also true, I started doing this the minute I got my own TV show 25 years ago. I had another expert and myself and it was a dialogue.

Then sometime in the early 00’s I connected with Oscarwatch.com and Sasha Stone. And I guess the rest, as they say, is Herstory.

But of course, I had to get even closer, didn’t I? And so this year when I was approached by the great Indie and stage actress Ann Dowd to help her with her very own, self-funded Oscar campaign for “Compliance” I did.

And it was a real education for the both of us, I can tell you.

Sasha at http://www.awardsdaily.com which is what Oscarwatch.com is called now has written, once again, as she invariably does on a staggering, daily basis, about NEXT year’s upcoming Oscar season. And this one is barely done.

But as Sasha so expertly lays it out, it’s pretty clear what’s coming our way, and “Monuments Men” seems to already be the front-runner, just straight out of the Gate.

It’s George Clooney v. the Nazis and he wrote, directed, produced and stars in this one. George is super hot again after the “Argo” win, so since this film hasn’t even begun to shoot yet, I won’t rain on anybody’s parade. Yet. But it does seem like a front-runner already.

And as Sasha always says, you know what happens to front-runners…

But back to Ann Dowd, what Sasha did point out in her astute, austere assessment of THIS year’s race was that no nominee was not backed up by an ace publicist. And a campaign.

And what does that mean? Lots and lots of money.

Poor Ann Dowd spent $16,000 or so of her own money to send screeners of “Compliance” to all the Voting Members of the Academy and also the nominating committee of the Screen Actors Guild. And she didn’t get a nomination from either voting body. Which is awful. But if you do Sasha’s math, it makes perfect sense.

You need to spend even MORE money than Ann did. You need to take out ads and have parties thrown for you. Parties go on all the time in L.A. before Oscars Phase I & also Phase II, and you need to be attending all those parties, especially if you are new to they, them, the Academy.

The AMPAS members are all too happy to meet new, talented faces, so its’ not their faults. It’s getting IN TO those parties. And that’s no mean feat.

But you have to go to a party EVERY DAY sometimes three times a day as Marion Cotillard did the first year she was nominated and won for “La Vie En Rose.” Acting in French, a complete unknown, she taught herself English by day, and networked like cra-zee at night, and she charmed all who met her, and she won.

And PS. her brilliant performance certainly deserved it. BUT SO DID ANN DOWD’S!

Let me quickly add that she did get nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress and also WON the National Board of Review award for that same category.

So she did receive accolades and the Santa Barbara Film Festival honored her as a Virtuoso. So Ann’s been flying back and forth between both coasts for months now, it seems.

IF ONLY she had received that elusive nomination! But it went to Jackie Weaver in “Silver Linings Playbook.” Which was a film all these people, all these voters saw. Evidently, they didn’t watch the screeners Ann sent them.Or worse. they didn’t like “Compliance.”

But the moral of the story is ~ if you don’t have a Cyntha Swartz, or a Michele Robinson or a Tony Angelotti behind you to start with. You’re not going to get an Academy Award nomination.

It’s like Hollywood is a closed shop. But we knew that, didn’t we? How naive can I be?

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We LOVE Anne Hathaway! Congratulations, Annie!

I meet Anne Hathaway for the first time here in this TV interview promoting “Brokeback Mountain” in 2005. It was the same day I also met Michelle Williams and the late Heath Ledger. It was one of the great afternoons of my life. And Anne had it all going on, even then. So kind of her to help me back in to the light in that moment. She was looking at a monitor and I didn’t know I was leaning too much on the wrong side.

I can’t believe I’ve known her that long! And I was so thrilled that she won the Oscar on Sunday for Best Supporting Actress for “Les Miserables.”

I was hinting that there was an Oscar in her future, mentioning how Luise Rainer in “The Great Zeigfeld” for a performance as Zeigfeld’s discarded wife that was basically a one phone call scene.

And of course, there was! Congratulations, Annie! Everybody predicted you would win, and you did! Or as you said when you received it “The Dream Came True!” And it did! It did!

Oscars! “Argo” wins Best Picture, Jennifer Lawrence wins Best Actress & falls down!

I really enjoyed this year’s Oscars. I ADORED Seth MacFarlane as the host and hope he’ll be back for more! He was funny, and insulting, but not tooooo insulting. Since when did it become a pre-requisite for all Oscar hosts to act like Ricky Gervais?
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This above ^ introductory paragraph was written before the anti-Seth MacFarlane outcry began today and before MacFarlane himself nixed the idea on Twitter.

I must tell you dear cineastes, dear readers, that I am late in responding to the Oscars because a) I was at a wonderful Oscar party with friends on Sunday and b) on Monday I had to start physical therapy for a back and neck injury and it knocked me sideways. But I was feeling, and walking, much better today. I felt a real spring in my step. Was it the Oscars? I think so. Also, Spring is coming. Right? Isn’t it?

But I’m back up tonight and shocked, SHOCKED by everyone in the media world dumping on the stupendous Seth. He can sing. He can dance. He’s got a dazzling kind of Donny Osmond-like charisma, that he undercuts totally with his wicked sense of humor. And I guess it was just too wicked for some. But he’s got a big career ahead of him whether he ever hosts the Oscars again, but since the ratings were WAY UP, he just might be back. He said “Tina and Amy will be doing this next year.” But I wonder…

Everyone at my party enjoyed it and so I am saddened that there was all this back-lash. Seth, I love you! And I thought you did a magnificent, hysterical job!

Quick-witted Seth sort of sank himself at the beginning of the show by doing 17 minutes with the barely endurable William Shatner, who was “beamed in” on a screen above the stage, in all his Star-Trek paraphernalia, and proved just why HE was never a movie star himself.

I know he’s from Montreal, but he was flat-out boring in that flat-lining opening gambit. And it went on far too long, ending, however, in the hilarious set-up of the Gay Men’s Chorus of L.A. singing “We Saw Your Boobs,” which is a number that will go down in Oscar history as love it or hate it, but me, I thought it was the essence of great comedy.

Not unlike his screamingly funny, and money-making film “Ted.” The potty-mouthed Teddy Bear, who MacFarlane voiced in the hit movie, also made an appearance with Mark Wahlberg to announce the Best Sound Categories. Which was an unprecedented tie for Sound Editing between “Zero Dark Thirty” (the only award it got) and “Skyfall” which also got Best Song for Adele.

The hue and cry against MacFarlane has all but dwarfed the actual awards and movies themselves as Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone points out at http://www.awardsdaily.com , but I’m happy to say that “Argo” won three. and Ben Affleck had his great moment in the sun, winning as a producer of the hit film, along with fellow producers,Grant Heslov, who hogged the microphone, and George Clooney, who stood by totally silent, and in a beard, clutching his hard-earned second Oscar like it was pure gold. Which it sort of is. But only gold-plated, really.But his firm grip was noticeable. I thought he was gonna break it in two. But then remember just last year, when he lost out on Best Actor to Jean DuJardin for “The Artist.”

Affleck was incredibly moving as he told everyone everywhere in the world to “never give up.” I took that very much to heart. He also said “Never hold grudges” in Hollywood. And to “always get back up when the world knocks you down.” Words of wisdom all…

“Argo” won Best Adapted Screenplay which I correctly predicted and also Best Editing for William Goldenberger, which I predicted, too. It lost out on Best Score. I thought they would acknowledge Alexandre Desplat, subtle, Middle-Eastern flavored work, but no, they instead gave to “Life of Pi”, which was Indian-flavored.

Affeck’s words about when the world knocks you down, get up, were illustrated minutes earlier, in a Forever in Oscar History Moment when Best Actress winner Jennifer Lawrence tripped on her massive Dior gown and face-planted right on the stairs up to the Oscar stage! For the rest of her career everyone is going to remember her like that! And then she got a standing ovation! Everyone loved her for it! And I did, too!

A great screen comedienne, as well as a talented actress, who is being rewarded at 22. And probably will be again, in a career that is looking by the minute. to be of LEGENDARY PROPORTIONS.

Her fall made the front pages of newspapers around the world! The New York Post headlined her prone picture with the words “Fallen Star”! Lolol..

That fall all but knocked Anne Hathaway’s win for Best Supporting Actress for her stunning, unforgettable turn as the doomed prostitute Fantine in “Les Miserables” out of everyone’s memories.

Hathaway’s unfortunate change of dress from Valentino to Prada, resulted in emphasizing her nipples to a ridiculous, impossible to ignore degree. I know. I know. It was only two seams hitting the wrong places, or perhaps the right places, because this made her pale, pale pink Prado famous around the world for all the wrong reasons. Joan Rivers cracked “Anne Hathaway was with the Pointer Sisters. And they were all very excited to be there.” I think, Anne Hathaway’s Nipples have their own Twitter account.

She’s a great, great young actress, who is just turning 30 and is at the height of her career, and I couldn’t be more happy for her! Congratulations, Annie! You had Oscar at “Hello”! The minute they released the “Les Miserables” trailer in June, I predicted she would win this! And I also predict this will not be her last Oscar. Only her FIRST!

There was a very rousing medley of “Les Miz” sung live by the entire cast, including Russell Crowe(!) and Annie. Another standing ovation! “Les Miz” got three Oscars, the same number as “Argo.” It also won Best Hair and Make-Up, as I predicted, and Best Sound Mixing, for its’ incredible blend of the live singing with a 60(!) piece orchestra that was added later! It’s a stunning achievement, my favorite film of the year and I wish it had won more.

The Academy really OWED Anne Hathaway an Oscar I.O.U. to quote Tom O’Neil, who was in Oscar heaven hyper-drive over at http://www.goldderby.com. After what she went through with James Franco! And their co-hosting a couple of years ago. That was ANOTHER one of Annie’s great performances as she kept trying to keep the show going at all costs despite Franco’s complete, er, disinterest…

And I can’t help but think that Ang Lee’s winning Best Director for “Life of Pi” and Annie’s win for “Les Miz” on Sunday night, were a kind of karmic pay-back from the “Oscar Gods” as Ang called it in his acceptance speech, for that awful night when “Crash” beat “Brokeback Mountain.” And the late Heath Ledger got his Oscar, too, although it was posthumously for “The Dark Knight.”

I was very happy for all of them.

A great, great, memorable show overall,too. I’ll never forget it! And I’ll have plenty more to say about it soon.

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The real Buzkhashi Boy

A very moving piece on the young star of the Oscar nominated Live Action short “Buzkhasi Boys.” I think he actually got to go to the Oscars, too. They didn’t win, but in this case the nomination was certainly the honor.

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Congratulations to Kirby Dick Indie Spirit Award Winner! Best Documentary! “Invisible War”!

Congratulations to my distinguished guest,seen here at the Provincetown Film Festival 2012, filmmaker Kirby Dick, for winning Best Documentary at the Indie Spirit Awards tonight!

Oscar to Spread the Wealth! Final Predictions in All Categories!

I think Oscar is going to spread his love all over many movies on Sunday night at the Dolby pavillion, and there’s going to be at least one major upset. Read below.

This is NOT who I WANT to win, but who I think will win. Never did ALLLLL the categories before, but FINALLY this year, I think I can.

Best Picture ~  Argo ~ Slam Dunk. It even just won Best Foreign Film at the Cesars, France’s Oscars. Does any one else even have a chance? Would be the ultimate shock if that happened.

Best Actor – Daniel Day Lewis. Does anyone else have a chance? No. Wish it was Hugh Jackman, but…

Best Actress- Jennifer Lewis ~ She’s Hollywood’s future. Young, beautiful, shapely, funny. She’s got it all. A last-minute surge of Emmanuelle Riva for “Amour” is not gonna be enough. I think not enough people saw it. Believe it or not. But they ALLLL saw “Silver Linings Playbook.”

Best Supporting Actress ~Anne Hathaway. “Les Miz” Slam dunk. See Daniel Day-Lewis.

Best Supporting Actor ~ Robert De Niro “Silver Linings Playbook” He’s got the Weinstein Co. behind him full force. If for some unforseeable upset in Best Actress, meaning Riva OR Qu’venzhane Wallis(my pick. I would vote for her. I WOULD!) getting R. De Niro his third Oscar is where “Silver Linings Playbook” will prevail. It just went of $100 million just this past week.
But if ALAN ARKIN wins here for “Argo” you KNOW that “Argo” is going to win everything it’s nominated for, which it might. It’s not just gonna win Best Picture.

<p>Best Director ~ Ang Li “Life of Pi” Beautiful film, best use ever of 3D, and degree of difficulty make this a second Best Director win for the much loved director of “Brokeback Mountain”. That terrible night when “Brokeback” lost to “Crash” may make Ang Li winning again, a KIND of Karmic pay-back. Same thing happened to the late Heath Ledger, but he was gone, tragically, when he won for “The Dark Knight.” I just feel Heath steering Ang’s boat to shore here.

Best Original Screenplay ~ Michael Hanke “Amour” I think this is the big win for “Amour” like it was for Pedro Almodovar for “Talk to Her” a few years back.

Best Adapted Screenplay -Chris Terrio for “Argo”.Again. It’s going to be an “Argo” kind of night.

Best Cinematography – Claudio Mirando for his beautiful work in “Life of Pi”

Best Visual Effects- Again, “Life of Pi”

Best Costumes -Jacqueline Duran “Anna Karenina” Wish it was going to win more. Another beautiful, beautiful film that wasn’t appreciated as much as it should’ve been.

Best Production Design ~ “Les Miserables” ANOTHER Beautiful film that didn’t get its’ due. I’ve seen it FOUR times! It’s nominated for Best Picture, so I think it will win this category, which used to be called Best Art Direction. They like them big and dressy and period in this category.

Best Film Editing ~ William Goldenberger  for “Argo”. He also edited much of “Zero Dark Thirty” which I don’t think it going to get anything, unfortunately. Too much controversy.

Best Song ~ “Skyfalll” and Adele will blow the roof off the play. Especially if this loses to “Suddenly” from “Les Miz.

Best Score – Alexandre Desplat “Argo” AGAIN.

Best Sound Editing ~ “Argo” AGAIN.

Best Sound Mixing-“Les Miserables” No contest. The live singing was brilliantly mixed!That’s Sound Editing at its best. And how it was blended, later with a 60 piece orchestra! Incredible!

Best Animated Short – “Paperman” Disney’s first black-and-white cartoon since when? “Steamboat Willy”?

Best Live Action Short – “Buzkahshi Boys” The actual Afghan locations and child actors are breathtaking and heartbreaking. Revelatory. And director Sam French is a director/Rock-Star in the making. Alternately, it could be the only film in English, “Curfew” set in New York City. Which is the light-er funny one here. Sometimes that wins this. But who has heard the Afghan language actually as spoken dialogue in a film?

Best Documentary – SHOULD be “Invisible War” but probably will be the very popular “Searching for Sugar Man.”

Best Doc Short “Open Heart”

Best Animated Feature ~ “Wreck It Raplph”

And the biggest surprise upset? Could be if “Amour” does NOT win Best Foreign Film, yes! It could happen! And it goes instead to the feel-good high-seas adventure, Norway’s “Kon-Tiki>” How can that happen when “Amour” seems so locked and so acclaimed and awarded? It’s,as they say, a difficult sit. For “Amour” details in stark, sterile clarity the step-by-step deterioration of a Parisian married woman, Emmanuelle Riva’s acclaimed Ann, after a series of strokes. It’s NOT for the faint-of-heart, which the small, the VERY small and elderly group of Academy voters, who vote on Best Foreign Film, are noted to be.
Anyone who’s a member can vote, but they have to sign in at the screenings of ALL FIVE FOREIGN FILMS, to make sure they’ve seen them all. This also applies to Doc Shorts.

It used to be applicable to Animated and Live Action Shorts and Feature Docs, too, but for the first time this year, they’ve opened up the voting to all 6,000 Academy members and deluged them with screeners. So now, a new rule must be applied. The most popular film like “Searching for Sugar Man” is the likely win over the VERY serious “Invisible War.” Unfortunately.

That’s at least four or is it five for “Argo”? Four for “Les Miserables”,Three for “Life of Pi”,Two for “Silver Linings Playbook”,One for “Amour” and One for “Lincoln” 

 

Check back on Monday and see how right, or WRONG, I was! Have fun watching the Oscars!With “Les Miserables”, “Argo”, “Lincoln”, “Silver Linings Playbook”, “Django Unchained And “Life of Pi” alllll having past the $100 million mark at the box-office, this may be the most-watched Oscars in a very, very long time.

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Oscar Predictions 2012!

My final Oscar Predictions! Shot at the great Health Food Store Green Sympathy, where they named a smoothie after me “The Stephen Holt Special”! I’m assisted here by Bway producer Jayne Ackley Lynch and Kyle Shim, son of the owner of Green Symphony, Jae Shim.

And after winning the WGA (Writer’s Guild of America) Award last night, “Argo” is pretty much locked down for Best Picture and also probably Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Editor, which I didn’t discuss here…but if it really is winning in all seven categories that it is nominated for, it could sweep Alan Arkin in in Best Supporting Actor.

Talk about having Oscar Momentum!

Camera& Editing- Kevin Teller

Could “Amour” lose Best Foreign Film? Emmanuelle Riva is coming to the Oscars

Suddenly, “Amour” seems to be on everyone’s Oscar lips. 85-year-old French actress Emmanuelle Riva was earlier this week reported to be “frail” and “having to use a walker.” But non, non, says her NYC Press Agents, “She’s fine, and she’s coming to the Oscars.” Well, why wasn’t she at the BAFTAS on Sunday, where she surprised Jennifer Lawrence and the Weinstein Co. and won Best Actress?

“Well, she can’t go to everything. She was just here for the New York Film Critics awards, and she was fine.”

OK. So who’s spreading those “too frail to travel” rumors? Hmmmm…

Could be the competition….? Or perhaps it is true.

I just think she missed a huge PR chance by not being on the internationally televised BAFTAs. But she won anyway. And with no campaigning whatsoever.

Maybe it doesn’t matter that she doesn’t turn up at the Oscars….Katharine Hepburn never did and she ended up with four Best Actress wins, the most ever.

But Hollywood KNEW Hepburn. They don’t know Emmanuelle Riva. And the BAFTAS are more often than not going to favor European films and stars, if given the chance.

Riva is really an unknown to American audiences and I’m afraid to say to the Academy members.

Also, I keep hearing that the older members of the Academy are not digging “Amour”s depressing downward spiral that Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant play so brilliantly. Riva is the stroke stricken wife. Trintignant her adoring, faithful husband who insists he takes care of Riva’s Ann in her last awful days.

Step by horrifying step we see the still beautiful Riva’s Ann decline and decline. For Academy Members who are Octogenarians themselves this is not easy subject matter, to put it mildly.

Scott Feinberg is sounding the “Amour” might not win Foreign Film alarm in this week’s “A Few Minutes with Feinberg” at http://www.thehollywoodreporter.com You see, and he’s right, the Foreign Film is voted on by only those Academy members who sign in that they have attended all FIVE screenings of the five films. It’s a small number of people and they, yes, are all elderly and NOT digging “Amour” as I’ve heard from the get go. And as Feinberg now confirms.

What would win? “A Royal Affair” from Denmark a lush period costume drama or even “Kon-Tiki” from Norway, which Scott defines as a “feel-good movie with a happy ending, sort of.”

IF “Amour” shocks and does NOT win Best Foreign Film voters who can’t sign in to all five screenings to see it may feel frustrated in expressing their “Amour” love and indeed upset Jennifer Lawrence’s apple cart and give Best Actress to Emmanuelle Riva. OR they could give it Best Director for Michael Haneke. It, by the way, is pronounced like the Festival of Lights, Hanukah.OR he could get Best Original Screenplay.

The Best Actress race is now so split wide-open, I still feel that little Qu’venzhane Wallis could sneak through. Oscar always loves surprises…AND little girls…

Things are heating up and the poles are still open until Tuesday, Oscar Voters.

Qu’venzhane’s Best Actress Oscar Upset?

The one thing NOBODY is taking in to consideration in the now very competitive Best Actress Oscar race is the fact that NOBODY in that category has yet to compete against its’ youngest ever nominee, the now 9-year-old dynamo that is Qu’venzhane Wallis.

As my Oscar Idol Tom O’Neil keeps saying over at http://www.goldderby.com and I quote “Oscar likes Little Girls.” And historically, he’s right. Patti Duke? Tatum O’Neal?Anna Pacquin? Anyone? But they all won in Supporting. If Qu’venzhane was in Supporting, she just might win. But the Academy wisely nominated her in lead Actress which is where her astonishing performance belongs. A six-year-old carrying this entire movie? It was astounding! I’ve never seen a better performance by a child actor, or actress. She was unforgettable.

But she’s not gone up against the other ladies ANYwhere. So there’s no telling what havoc she might wreck. Jennifer Lawrence is the presumed front-runner for “Silver Linings Playbook.” But just this Sunday she showed surprising weakness at the BAFTAS in London when she lost to 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva for “Amour.” But Qu’venzhane was not nominated for a BAFTA.

In fact, the Academy Award is the first serious Best Actress race she has competed in, against these women.

Well, yes, she did win Best Young Actor(or Actress) from the Broadcast Film Critics. I think she got Best Breakthrough Actress from the National Board of Review. And she won something similar from the Hollywood Film Awards.

And she’s charmed EVERYONE with her acceptance speeches. She irresistible. And Oscar likes to SURPRISE. And this would be a surprise!

It’s so boring that we all know “Argo” is going to win Best Picture(but deserving), and especially boring that Daniel Day-Lewis for “Lincoln” and Anne Hathaway for “Les Miserables” (who deserves it) are going to continue their march to the podium.

Jennifer Lawrence is also very young, 22, but Qu’venzhane is 9, and she did “Beasts of the Southern Wild” when she was six.

Exhibit A for Qu’venzhane ~ Everybody now pronounces her name correctly.
And Exhibit B – They also have learned to SPELL it correctly.

Tom O’Neil and Pete Hammond of http://www.deadline.com joked about her name in many early podcasts, but they are not laughing now. Calling her Miss Unpronounceable. They are NOT saying that anymore. In fact, BOTH have learned to say her name correcly, and say it with respect.

Exhibit C – The Academy liked “Beasts of the Southern Wild” enough to nominate it for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenply.

Benh Zeitlin has just turned 30 and he ALSO ranks as one of the youngest directors to ever be nominated, too, btw.

Some people feel a child that young’s performance is not an acting performance, it’s a manipulation of the child by the director. Hence Zeitlin’s wonderful, surprising nom.

Best Director is really the most up-in-the-air category of any of the Oscars this year. Since Ben Affleck was snubbed famously for “Argo.” We know he’s not winning? But who is? Zeitlin?

And I have this really strong suspicion that, well, a certainty, really, as an Oscarologist of LONNNNNNNG standing…that “Beasts” is going to win something big. It could be Zeitlin. It could be Qu’venzhane Wallis.

Jennifer Lawrence has her youth, her beauty, TWO multi-million dollar franchises “The Hunger Games” and “X-Men” behind her AND she’s got Harvey Weinstein and his super-effective TWC publicity machine behind her. They got surprisingly THREE BAFTAS in places that weren’t expected. Christopher Waltz for Supporting Actor for “Django Unchained” and Quentin Tarantino for Original Screenplay. QT could repeat that feat at the Oscars, since he also was snubbed for Best Director along with Affleck, Tom Hooper and Kathryn Bigelow.

AND he also got David O.Russell Best Adapted Screenplay for “Silver Linings Playbook” at the BAFTAS which nobody expected either.

Of those three wins, I think Tarantino is most likely to score at the Oscars. Mainly because Harvey is pushing Robert De Niro like CRA-ZEE here in the States for the sympathetic Italian father in “Silver Linings.” It’s been DECADES since De Niro won his last Oscar for “Raging Bull.” So I think he’ll score this VERY competitive race for Best Supporting Actor.

And “Silver Linings Playbook” is being advertised to death on TV and all the players, all four of the leads are nominated in all four acting categories and have been omnipresent on your and my TVs.

Qu’venzhane, well, she’s been around, but she’s also in school, and her responsible family wants to keep her there as long as 4th grade is in session.Or is it third?

Also, Jennifer Lawrence SHOULD have won in London. Harvey was working his magic, as I said, but the Weinsteining only went so far. It didn’t stop “Argo” Awards march and Jennifer Lawrence lost to Emmanuelle Riva.

Emmanuelle Riva is beyond brilliant and totally memorable in “Amour,” but I keep hearing that Academy members can’t watcn it on their DVDs. It’s about Octogenarians coping with death, basically, and it’s just too much, too depressing for many.

But they’ve all watched “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and Oscar likes to do something that not everybody else has done in terms of a winner, and Qu’venzhane would certainly be that. She’d make history, too, as the youngest ever Best Actress Oscar winner and also as only the second African-American winner in that category EVER.

As Tom O’Neil is constantly saying “It’s which one is not like the other ones. It’s the Apple in a bag of Oranges.” And Qu’venzhane fits THAT description to a “T”

Last week she was one of the covers of Entertainment Weekly’s Oscar issue and she’s also on Vanity Fair’s Oscar cover banging away on a set of drums!

The Academy is constantly being accused of racism, especially after Viola Davis’s loss to Meryl Streep last year. That was Harvey at work, yet again. I think there’s a verb now. I’ll call it Weinsteining if anybody else hasn’t already.

And Oscar likes little girls.

And they like “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

And y’know something else? Everyone is underestimating her. But any time any one says her name on TV now, or anywhere, they SMILE.

If I was voting this year, she’s the one I’d vote for.

Emmanuelle Riva is frail and didn’t make it to the BAFTAS and is even now using a walker and may not be able to make that lonnnnng flight to LA. So there’s the fear of a no-show.

Qu’venzhane Wallis will make the MOST adorable speech ever.

You can see me interviewing her this past June when she was 8 on my You Tube Channel http://www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow and I ask her about the Oscars and you can see her charming response. She didn’t know what an Oscar was, BTW.

Last time I saw Qu’venzhane was at the Gotham Awards. It was outside at night, as I was leaving and she was SIGNING AUTOGRAPHS! To a bunch of screaming fans! Her mother Qu’lendrea was there and I noted to her that Qu’venzhane had gotten quite tall, since I had seen her last in June. She shooting up fast. And I said to her Mom, “Is she all right?” And she said, “Yes,” and I said “How is she taking all this?” And she said “She’s fine.”

Then she tapped Qu’venzhane firmly on the shoulder and pointed to me. Qu’venzhane remembered me! And smiled and curtsied to me.

I would vote for HER.

Maybe the all-too-serious actor’s branch of AMPAS wouldn’t. But the REST of the 4,500 membership, the infamous all male “steak-eaters” as Anne Thompson calls them just might.I call them the “SWORM”, the straight white old rich men, who are the majority of the Academy. Yeah, I can see THEM voting for Qu’venzhane.

Downton Abbey Season 3 ~ Ep.6 ~ There Are Fairies at the Bottom of the Abbey

SPOILER! SPOILERS! AND MORE SPOILERS! ALERT!

CODE VIOLET!

Or rather, as she’s called by some of her family, Cousin Violet (Dame Maggie Smith) was in full purple sail in Ep.6, the penultimate episode of “Downton Abbey” Season 3. Yes, dear readers, dear Downtonians, Season 3 is ending next week. *sob*sigh*sharp intake of breath* Alas!

Quality television is sooo rare these days and “Downton Abbey”s got it. In Spades.

And in the dreamy episode 6, Cousin Violet prompts Cousin Isobel to say “Have you changed your pills?” In one delicious set-to after the other, over Uber-social reformer Cousin Isobel’s (the superb Penelope Wilton) wanting to maintain former prostitute and former Downton maid, Ethel, as her cook and house-keeper.Shocking!

MEANWHILE!

Rob James-Collier’s sinister bad boy and head valet Thomas comes out of the shadows and is really at the center of this magnificent episode, which is, yes, an exploration of the attitudes towards homosexuality in the unenlightened Roaring 20s. In Post War Downton, everyone downstairs seemed to be roaring at Thomas. So bad Thomas, become poor gay Thomas and overwhelming sympathetic.

Thomas’ redemption began in Ep. 5 as he broke down crying at the death of Lady Sybil in childbirth in Ep.4. Rob James-Collier’s breakdown was as involving and empathetic and it was surprising in its’ power. “She didn’t even know I was alive!” he sobs “She was the only one who was nice to me!”

The death of Lady Sybil is going to be an ever-occuring and equivalent touchstone to the”Upstairs Downstairs” death of Lady Marjorie on the Titanic. Everything from now on will keep referring back to the untimely death of the lovely Lady Sybil at 24 years of age.

One keeps coming back to the fact of “Why? Why did they kill her off in such unceremonious, but incredibly compelling dramatic fashion?” And I keep coming up with the answer Well, she couldn’t act very well, so what else were they going to do with her?

With her abrupt passing, Tom Branson, the stupendous Alan Leech has really come into his own as the grieving father, former chauffeur and left-behind Irish son-in-law, who, in this episode begins to take over the running of the estate. He’s the new manager. And as magnificently played by Leech, he’s also becoming a very major character and dare I
say it? A heart-throb.

Which brings me back to the other emerging male star of Season 3, Rob James-Collier’s Thomas, who in this wonderful and also horrifying episode is called upon to play depths of emotion, his character has never been called upon to play so far. There are layers upon layers of dreadful humiliation as his frustrated gay feelings have nowhere to goand get him in to terrible trouble this episode.

Led on by the devilish Miss O’Brien, a former friend, Thomas thinks that Jimmy(Ep Speleers), the flirty footman is infatuated with him.

And so one night, he attempts a very beautiful kiss of the sleeping footman, the gorgeous Jimmy, who awakens and threatens to punch Thomas’s headlights out.

This disturbance is witnessed by the witless Alfred Nugent, and is reported upon by both Alfred and Jimmy to the Head Butler the super proper, Mr. Carson, who is revolted. And calls Thomas in to tell him he’s “foul” among other choice insults as he prepares to fire him. Thomas movingly says as he’s leaving”I may not be like you. But I’m not foul.”

And the major plot now revolves in this gripping episode of what are they going to do with Poor Gay one-handed Thomas?

James-Collier really proves himself to be a considerable actor as he is called upon by the brilliant, subtle script to play all the levels of loneliness, hurt, heart-break and degradation that homosexuals of that time, and earlier, were subjected to.

Oscar Wilde’s name was mentioned and that scandal that landed Wilde in jail in the Gay ’90s, was a mere two decades earlier than Downton’s time of 1920. And Thomas is constantly threatened with jail for his innocent, aborted kiss. As Wilde was. He was found guilty and sentenced to two years imprisonment at hard labor because he was gay. It ruined his health and destroyed his talent.

And of course, who is behind all these machinations? Thomas’ former partner-in-crime Miss O’Brien, the wicked witch of Downton, who, I’m happy to say, does get her comeuppance quite grandly at the end of these two hours of television glory.

Oh! And Bates gets out of jail! I almost forgot! And it is in Bates’ and Anna’s new home, a cozy little cottage on the estate, bien sur, that we watch them happily refurbish as poor, gay, lonely Thomas sinks deeper and deeper into depression and hopelessness that the wicked trap, ,which evil Miss O’Brien has set for him snaps shut.

There is a saving punch-line to all this, but neither Bates nor Anna knows what it means, and why it causes Miss O’Brien so suddenly to heel, bitch.

And the words that brought her down off her broom=stick and back to earth with a resounding thud?

“Her Ladyship’s bar of soap”.

Anyone who has been watching since Season One will know what that means, but it’s too complicated and dastardly to explain here.

As I have to also comment on Lady Edith’s emerging career as a newspaper columnist! Laura Carmichael also outdoes herself in this episode and she begins, through writing to find herself. I could identify.

It also takes this busy, jam-packed episode to London, where she is chaperoned by her Aunt Rosamond, Lady Painswyck. And so we get to see more of that delightful character. who is the Dowager(Maggie Smith)’s smart London daughtet, and watch with unalloyed joy as Lady Edith, the mouse of the glamorous Grantham family, begins to assert and find herself through journalism! A column! She becomes a blogger, Roaring ’20’s style, and of course, her editor falls in love with her.

Laura Carmichael is magnificent as she goes from the recently jilted bride, left at the altar in Ep.2, and we delight in her triumph as she becomes the butterfly that was still in the cocoon at Downton and begins to spread her wings ~ a bit. Though she is still very shy and proper. And she can’t believe people are responding to her writing! I know how that feels!

ANOTHER wonderful Downton episode, two hours of heaven, then next week, two more hours and it will be gone until next season. And yes, there is going to be a season 4 and maybe much, much more according to a Vanity Fair article on Julian Fellowes, whose brilliant and sole creation this is. He does all the writing of all the episodes of all the seasons himself! It’s all him! It amazes me!

Because that almost never is allowed to happen in American television, which is why British television is so superior to ours almost always. Because the British have this thing about “The Writer” and it’s called respect. And it’s a beautiful thing.

“Downton Abbey” which is becoming the most successful series ever on PBS, can be seen on Sundays at 9pm on Ch.13 in New York and is rebroadcast on Monday at 1am. Or rather Tuesday morning at 1am. It can also be seen on Ch.21 WLIW on Mondays at 8pm.Don’t miss it!

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