a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

OK. It’s on! The Oscar season has more than officially started. We are in what’s called “Phase One”  and as I’ve been saying since Toronto. It was all over as soon as I saw “12 Years A Slave.” Nothing could touch it. Nothing has.

Of course, it’s a very bad position to be the front-runner from the get go, but quality is quality and this is one of the greatest films of all time, a masterpiece, and the Academy cannot deny it it’s due. AND it’s making money, too.

I was worried when it first unspooled at Telluride that the praise was too deafening to be true. But when I saw it, the hosannas were understated. It’s one of the greats.

I was also worried that it was too much too soon. Could it sustain all the way though this LONG Oscar season, which doesn’t end this year until MARCH!

But it has been sustaining and people are going to see it, placing it at a strong #7 now on the Box-Office Top Ten for two weeks in a row.

And the critics awards aren’t going to be handed out for another 2-3 weeks or so. And when it starts, I’m telling you it won’t stop. “12 Years a Slave” is going to win EVERYthing!

The Best Actor race is much more variable with Chiwetel Ejiafor still out in front in my estimation. That’s for playing the title role in “12 Years a Slave”. And the Academy is poised to make history, which it often doesn’t shy away from doing, by giving Steve McQueen an Oscar for Best Director. He would be the first black man to ever win this award, shockingly.The news this year is that African-American and Black films and stars have all arrived and are here to stay, with performances that should be recognized. I am also predicting a record number of AA nominees this year. Maybe the Most In Oscar History. Call it the Obama Effect hits the Oscar big time this year. And I think that’s a good thing for everybody.

“12 Years a Slave” two months after TIFF is still a juggernaut that can’t be stopped. And thank goodness, everyone is getting on board.

The Gurus of Gold (which I used to be one for several seasons) has both 12YAS, McQueen and Ejiafor in the number one spots in their respective categories. And Lupito Nyong’o, too for Best Supporting Actress. The brilliant actress whose family really is from Africa(her father was a diplomat and politician) and she’s a Yale School of Drama graduate to boot. That stunning performance as Patsey, the tragic slave heroine will haunt your dreams. I can never stop praising her searing, magnificent performance. And Lupita is growing on the Awards Circuit every day, giving gracious, intelligent interview after interview. She’s the Cinderella story of the year, and she’s more than ready for her close-up.

And I still say Michael Fassbender’s multi-faceted turn as the villainous slave-owner Edwin Epps will also win the German-born, Irish actor a Best Supporting Actor Award. He’s got the industry cred behind him, with many many starring roles in movies lined up and coming out one right after the other.So Hollywood has a vested interest in him becoming a bigger and bigger and bigger star. His getting this award will validate all those expensive movies that have already invested millions in him becoming one of Hollywood’s new, true stars. Who also happens to be a great actor, too. And I think his non-campaigning  campaign is only going to help him. Silence is sometimes golden. Ask Garbo, if she were still alive. Ask Jean DuJardin and Michel Hazanaviscious. Hell, ask Mo’nique.

And the fascinating Fassbinder’s  got the title role in the controversial “The Counselor” out now. He’s also one of the leads in the X-Men franchise, and on and on and on. He’s what movie stars are made of, and so is Lupita Nyong’o.

Best Actress I feel personally is going to go to Sandra Bullock for “Gravity.” A sensationally popular mega-hit, which people are seeing over and over again, Bullock, or Sandy as she’s know to one and all in Hollywood, is the only person in 95% of the movie. George Clooney is barely in it. Spoiler alert.

With “Saving Mr. Banks” on the horizon, and two other major players “American Hustle” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” still unseen, it’s non-sensical to even call everything as I have been calling it since Sept. and Toronto. But hey! It’s the Oscars! It’s the Silly Season as David Karr of the NY Times so accurately called it, back in the Golden Days when he was the Times’ Oscar guy. He called himself “The Carpetbagger.” Because that’s what he felt like being a TImes financial reporter covering the Oscars. And so yes, it’s silliness personified.

But then so are the three unseen films which cover “Mary Poppins” back story, and financial guys at different end of the social spectrums. And different eras. Call me irresponsible, but I don’t see anything in the subject matters of these three films, all maybe comedies, We don’t know for sure yet. But yes, they all seem picayune by comparison.

But I can tell you what will win Best Animated Feature already Disney’s “Frozen” and Best Song “Let It Go” From Frozen.

And I don’t see any of these last three films really shaking up The Race.

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