a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

I went to the Gotham Awards totally thinking that my fave, and critical darling, “12 Years a Slave” was going to win big tonight, but it got NOthing! NOTHING! However, 2013 continues to be a big year for African-Americans and the films they’ve made. “Fruitvale Station” got the most accolades with two wins. Nothing got more than that.

Ryan Coogler won the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award for “Fruitvale Station” and I got to chat with him a bit afterwards in the delightfully less crowded than usual Press/Green Room, far removed from the noisy fray of the banquet hall below at swank Cipriani’s on Wall St.. Where jammed packed Indie stars and industry types kept talking to each other and not listening to the speakers who kept trying to make them pay attention to THEM. Evidently a losing battle.

However in the Press Room, everyone seemed totally absorbed with what all were saying, and I still feel that out of everybody I talked to tonight, Ryan Coogler, the brilliant young African-American director of “Fruitvale” is the only person who may surprise at the Oscar nominations next month in a category that last year was spread among eight.

If you want to parse it more exactly Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone does it more expertly than I at http://www.awardsdaily.com.

The Director’s Branch of academy is not going to know what the formerly influential DGA (Directors Guild of America) is going to choose before it votes on the directors. Or vice versa. Sasha will explain it.

I tried to explain it to Ryan Coogler and he was dumbfounded at the news. And I had to explain to him, that I, the Oscar Messenger was telling Behn Zeitlin, the exact same thing  last year at the Gothams, standing in the exact same spot in the exact same room that we were both now in, that he was going to get an Oscar nomination, and he didn’t believe me either. And look what happened! I was right! Zeitlin DID get nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director for “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” In fact, he won the exact same award as Coogler. And in fact, “Beasts” also won two Gotham Awards last year.

Coogler said he just flat-out couldn’t believe me. “It’s all on my cast, man, and Forest.” Forest Whitaker produced “Frutivale Station,” and was also an honoree tonight.

And Coogler said, “Man, haven’t we met before? I know you.” And I demurred saying that “No. It’s the first time, but I loved your movie.” and that “Melonie(Diaz) was on my show.”

The other award “Fruitvale” won was for Michael B. Jordan for Best Breakthrough Actor. 

He was pounced on my all the media in the press room, and since I feel he ISN’T going to repeat this win at the Oscars(or even get a nomination. Best Actor is soooo jammed this year.) I didn’t press my luck with the surging hoards.

Nor did I try to talk to Brie Larson who surprised all in the room by winning Best Actress for “Short Term 12.” She smartly said as she began at the mike, “This is the only acceptance speech I am going to be making this year.” And she’s right. She hasn’t got a shot of cracking the very tightly locked Famous Five, all former winners, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Dame Judi Dench, Sandra Bullock and Emma Thompson.

Again there was a surge towards her in the press room, and I just thought, “She’s not being nominated” So it wasn’t worth the chance of being trampled in the rush. But I did hear her above the muted din, I did hear her stress how genuinely surprised she was. She looked very, very pale, like a woman in shock should look.

A very funny moment occurred when Jared Leto (who probably IS going to be nominated for Best Supporting Actor for “Dallas Buyers Club”) accepted the award for Best Actor on behalf of Matthew McConaughey, who wasn’t there. Leto held his cell phone up to the micro-phone and tried to get the audience to hear what Matthew was saying. He opened with “Alright! Alright! Alright!” in an accented twang, and ended with saying “Matthew says ‘I Love New York!”

And last but not least, “Inside Llewyn Davis” surprised by winning Best Picture(!?!) And Llewyn himself said he was so happy and honored to be accepting this award for the Coen Brothers(who weren’t there), and to be in a “New York film about New York with New York actors.” That speech got the biggest round of applause, I think. Him, I made a bee-line for in the Press Room, and talked about how I had met him at Juilliard many years ago. And we were supposed to do a satellite interview tomorrow, but stay tuned Stephen Holt Show fans, it’s being rescheduled for next week.

To sum up, I think this will help McConaughey keep his spot in the deadly Best Actor debacle which seemed tightly locked between himself, Chiwetal Ejiafor, Robert Redford, Tom Hanks and Bruce Dern, until this weekend when everyone who saw the advance guild and press screenings of “Wolf of Wall Street” went batshit crazy over Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance.

So I have to give a concluding shout out to my three friends and former guests on my show, who I had the pleasure of sitting through this whole shebang with. Brian Brooks, Nigel Smith and Peter Knegt. All from http://www.Indiewire.com  ,although Brian has now moved on to http://www.deadline.com

And I asked  the Oscar-wise Peter who he thought was going to get bumped by Leo out of the Best Actor five and he said, “It’s either Redford or Hanks.” And I think he’s right.

The Gothams, the Awards from Independent Films FOR Independent Films, really went truly indie tonight by giving awards to people and films that are going to be swamped by “12 Years A Slave” come tomorrow when the Critics Groups start announcing. Let the Hunger Games Begin!

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