a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for the ‘Independent Films’ Category

Gotham Nods Go Big for “The Favourite”

The Gotham Awards Nominations have been announced(They are always the first to do so.) and my favorite film, or ONE of my favorite films of the year “The Favourite” scored big with three major nominations. Including a brand-new category “Female Ensemble” for all three tremendous actresses, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone and Olivia Colman.

Doesn’t help figure out who is going where with the Oscars. But Colman WANTS to be run in lead, whether she wins or not. And both Weisz and Stone have Oscars of their own already. If that happened, the duo would be in Supporting(and deserve to be). Emma Stone is really the lead here, but all ways here are the Queen’s way. And the Queen(Olivia Colman) wants to be in lead, and so it shall be. Unless the Academy decides to go its own way(as it often does.)

Recently when Kate Winslet had some category confusion going on for her two roles in “The Reader” and “Revolutionary Road,” while she won TWO Golden Globes that year, the Academy went with only “The Reader” as the Actress contender. And Winslet won it.

Olivia Colman is an Oscar newbie, and though she has a stellar career in British films and onstage, she’s more or less unknown here. And she’s not an ingenue, just breaking through.

“The Favourite” was also nominated for Best Feature and Best Screenplay. This squarely puts it in running for Oscar nods in all those categories.

Of the other much-talked about contenders for Best Actress, only Glenn Close for “The Wife” made it here with the Gothams, who are the East Coast equivalent of the Indie Spirit Awards.

Yalitza Apericio was nominated as Best Breakthrough Performance for “Roma.”

I think all these five above mentioned women are going to be nominated for the Oscars, too.

For complete list go to http://www.awardsdaily.com, and you can also find my complete review of “The Favourite” there.

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My First Review at Awardsdaily for this year’s New York Film Festival

So proud, as always to continue my magnificent relationship, with the great Oscar site Awardsdaily! Here’s a link to my first review of the New York Film Festival’s Opener “The Favourite.” www.awardsdaily.com/2018/10/09/new-york-film-festival-review-the-favourite/

So much Oscar confusion with this one because the three leads, Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz(both pictured above) and the beauteous Emma Stone(pictured on Awardsdaily.com) are all sooooo excellent. Too much of a muchness? Not in this case!

“The Favourite” is one of MY favorite films of the year!

“Bernhardt/Hamlet” She’s great. The play is not.


A theater goddess walks among us. Clearly, British actress Janet McTeer is one of the greats. Anyone who saw her “Doll’s House” back in the day can attest to this. Anyone who sees Theresa Rebeck’s half-baked “Bernhardt/Hamlet” will wonder why this acting colossus is attempting this pygmy play.

And of course, the answer is “There are no great parts for women.” Or few great parts as the play makes abundantly clear. Over and over and over again. Pedantic, didactic and I agree with playwright Rebeck’s conclusion. And frustration. But the means she uses to execute her thesis, and this is a thesis play. Collegiate. If she were in college, and she wrote this at the time she was in college, say roughly the 1970s, it may have seemed like something sparkling and new, but as “Bernhardt/Hamlet” as presented on Broadway by the redoubtable Roundabout, it is trite, trite, trite.

However the sublime Janet McTeer makes you almost forget all these things. Almost. If  Hamlet was a vivacious housewife who just solved her servant problem.And she is surrounded by some of the best young actors working today. Dylan Baker, Matt Saldivar, Nick Westrate and main among them, Jason Butler Harner. And they are all defeated by this mediocre material that the Roundabout is trying to foist on us as a silk purse, when it’s really the sow’s ear. Or in this case, the entire sow.

McTeer is a gargantuan presence. She is six-foot five at least, with the deepest and most resonant of voices. She has played many, many male roles herself, recently a remarkable Petruchio, in the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park’s all female “Shrew” a few seasons back. And on-screen she was the transvestite lover of Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs.” So she is no stranger to cross-dressing. Nor, evidently, was the diminutive  Bernhardt, who was barely five feet.

Considered to this day, the greatest actress of the 19th century, she was a dyed-in-the-wool eccentric. She slept in a coffin. She had a leopard for a pet, and wore a hat made out of bats’ wings. The only way we non-time-traveling mortals can experience her greatness today is by reading about her in the many, many books and biographies of “La Divina” as she was known. And the contemporary reviews of her critics. Don’t forget the critics! George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde both adored her and wanted her in their plays.

None of this is in “Bernhardt/Hamlet.” Rebeck the writer makes her seem smaller than life and seems to have tailored this play as simply as a vehicle for the dynamic McTeer. Who deserves to have plays written for her. Just not this one.

She seems like a socialite, a gad-fly, someone who likes to have a beer and pal around with the guys, rather than sleep with them. She had many, many lovers and yes, McTeer kisses Butler Harner (As Edmund Rostand) again and again and again. As if to prove some kind of heterosexual point.

The great French playwright wrote “Cyrano de Bergerac” for her, but the part of Roxanne is hardly what you remember Cyrano for. And she chastises him, but he doesn’t make the part any better, and she still continues her affair with him. And yes, they kiss and they kiss and they kiss at every opportunity. Rebeck even presents us with Rostand’s wife,(Ito Aghayere) who in a very bizarre scene, seems to condone the affair, but that’s about as eccentric as this earth-bound Berhhardt is allowed to get.

Rebeck  has made the great Bernhardt seem very everyday as an actress. She seems remarkably superficial, constantly complaining the Shakespeare’s greatest play had too many words  in it. And constantly going “up” (forgetting her lines) in rehearsals, which this Bernhardt seems to treat as a schlog and a joke.

Ah! But then McTeer is allowed to do “Hamlet” straight on, it is just wonderful. And a great gift to those who witness it. There are only TWO niggardly moments that Rebeck allows her to play Hamlet at full throttle..

At the beginning of Act Two, she gets to do the entire “What a piece of work is man” scene with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. And she and Dylan Baker play the Ghost scene as if it were a love scene and it works. (pictured above^)How it works! These two moments really are worth the price of admission. I just which we had a chance to see the great Janet McTeer do ALL of the real Hamlet and not just this shoddy imitation.

And would that the witty and wonderful late playwright Wendy Wasserstein was still with us. SHE would’ve made Bernhardt scintillating, rather the mundane feminist Rebeck leaves us with.

John Glowacki Does “Brokeback” Scene

I saw the annual NYU Grad Acting Actors Presentations and John was one of the fine actors they were presenting with a song(not usually) and two scenes,one of which he also wrote(!) and the other this searing, powerful scene from “Brokeback Mountain.” John is unforgettable in it truly. It’s haunting. AND heartbreaking. His future seems so bright. And I’m happy and proud to bring him to you today on “The Stephen Holt Show.” There’s Part One also where he sings and Part Three where I do a brief interview with him.  You can also see this on my You Tube channel. http://www.youtube.com/Stephenholtshow

“Roma,” Willem Dafoe Win Big at Venice Film Festival

Alfonse Cuaron’s “Roma” won big at the Venice Film Festival yesterday. It won the much-prized Golden Lion, their top film prize. It’s in Black and White, and set in Mexico in the 1970s and is in Spanish, but has been acclaimed every- where it’s been shown.

Willem Dafoe won Best Actor for his portrayal of the tortured artist Vincent Van Gogh, under the direction of Julian Schnabel, in “At Eternity’s Gate.”

British actress Olivia Coleman won Best Actress for “The Favourite,” Yorgos Lanthimos controversial period drama.

All three films will be at Toronto and I will see them all VERY soon when I begin to cover the New York Film Festival for Awardsdaily.com. The press screenings start the week after next.

Also expect all three of these acclaimed films to figure majorly in this year’s Oscar race. Though Coleman may find herself competing as Supporting Actress. She co-stars in “The Favourite” with two Academy Award winners, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz. All are competing for the gold, it is said.

Oh, and the Academy has dropped its idea of starting a “Most Popular Film” category after much push-back, and I’m glad they did.

The Best Film will remain the Best Film. Period. End of Discussion.

Lucas Hedges’ “Boy Erased” to Open at Telluride. Also to play TIFF


Lucas Hedges will no doubt start his Oscar journey again this year as his new highly anticipated film “Boy Erased” is premiering at Telluride this weekend.

The Telluride Film Festival is small, quick, and up in the mountains and is the bona fide beginning of the Oscar season. It has debuted almost every single film that has won best picture in the past decade. And I have no doubt that “Boy Erased” will continue in this noted trajectory.

It is about gay conversion therapy. Hedges, the boy of the title, is sent to a camp where this is abominable treatment is practiced.

“Boy Erased” stands out among all the other titles announced today. You can see them all at http://www.awardsdaily.com.

“Boy Erased” will also be shown at TIFF. As will “Beautiful Boy,” the Timothee Chalamet/Steve Carrell starrer about drug addiction, which is also heavily Oscar buzzed.

I myself will be covering the New York Film Festival come September…which actually is beginning REAL soon.

Exciting titles abound. I can’t wait!

Oscars Major Changes, 3 Hr. Running Time, New Category

AMPAS has just announced major changes. The ratings were abysmally low (to the people who make these decisions) “The Shape of Water” winning, a beautiful film that not a lot of people saw with the love interest a monster/fish may be what sunk all this. 

It will be cut down to three hours, which can only help. All those technical awards, Best Short, Best Short Feature, Best Animated Short, Best Doc Short, all will be relegated like the Sound, Hair and Make-Up, Best Cinematography and Best Costumes to a pre-show, like with the Tonys, or during commercial breaks.

Haven’t we ALLLL longed for a shorter show? Four hours plus was always excessive…But adding a new category “Most Popular Film” makes room for action movies, etc. the likes of which I really cringe about seeing these days. That’s an unfortunate dumb-ing down…And moving the date up TOO? To Feb.8???

Well, I guess we can say Oscar season is upon us now that it’s AUGUST. It’s not too early to start prognosticating anymore, Oscar fans, now is it? And what I would like to know is what happened to the two films that are probably going to dominate the awards this year ANY way? Well, in my book…

“Boy Erased” starring Lucas Hedges as a young gay teen forced into conversion therapy by his parents Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe. It hasn’t even been announced yet as being in a major festival. Although, yes, it is opening in November. From Focus Features.

And it will be competing with, and being confused with the other “Boy” movie, “Beautiful Boy” starring Timothy Chalamet about a drug addicted teen. 

Both Hedges and Chalamet previous Oscar nominees are bound to be heading back to the Dolby Pavilion again this year. Both films are opening within weeks of each other in the now more-vital-than-ever-month of November. Now that the Awards date has been moved up to early February. Confused?

Imagine how the Academy Members are feeling right now….

The NEW Oscars is not going to be like any Oscars we’ve known before…

And “Black Panther” with its billion dollar box-office is going to be going up against “Mama Mia 2” I am making this prediction already.

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