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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Video

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.

Video

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.

Video

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.

Video

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

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