a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Cynthia Swartz’

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?

Oscar at Alfred Dunhill. The IFP Nominees Party.

So everyone, of course, was wearing black. It’s New York. It’s getting colder. It’s always black, black, black.

 Me? I was wearing my famous purple pants and cap, and everything else was orange. I POPPED in the room, needless to say. I hate going to parties and being the most famous person there.

But WHAT was I doing at Alfred Dunhill, probably the most expensive, exclusive ( it’s British, y’know. They started out making saddles…and er, moved on up…) Men’s shop in NYC? I think it outdoes Brook Brothers. But at least at Brooks Brothers, there’s some traces of color, some variations, in style, in selection. But no. These were all slate-grey to black SUITS. And you know what the word “suits” mean in Hollywood. The irony was getting a little heavy in here. And where were the Dunhill swag bags? Oh, there weren’t any…

Black, that’s what all the men were wearing, and all the women, too. Well, SOME women wore black skirts. Being all Orange myself, I felt like a Mexican at a Presbyterian funeral.

And the deepest irony is that this was the party for the Gotham Awards Nominees. The Gotham Awards being the East Coast equivalent of the West Coast’s Independent Spirit Awards. Since when did the Gothams get so chic?

The Gothams in a couple of weeks are the first awards ceremony of the New York season. A minor distinction because there’s virtually no ceremonies here. It’s all on the Left Coast, so being a New York Oscar blogger, well, it ain’t easy.

But oh! Suddenly, there was Scott Feinberg!

Who actually IS an Oscar blogger himself. www.scottfeinberg.com

He was started out at Awardsdaily as I did, and still proudly am, but Scott has his own Oscar site. I have merely this humble WordPress blog. And Scott flies back and forth from Coast to Coast. I, however,due to fate and circumstance, just stay here.

But Scott who looked like he should be or MIGHT be wearing Alfred Dunhill at any moment did have a few things to say. He was standing with a bright young lady from 42W who surprised with an invitation only on the day OF. I was supposed to be attending Anthony Del Col’s and Conor McCreery’s big graphic novel, of “Kill Shakespeare” launch party in the Village and they were EXACTLY at the same time. But when Oscar calls…you’ve got to go.

And what about Feinberg”s favorite topic of late? The Annette Bening/Julianne Moore duo of competing(for the Oscar)Lesbian Moms in “The Kids Are All Right?” He agreed with the Focus Features’ exec who was there(I was recognizing press and press agents, but NOOO actors, and no nominees) who said ONCE AGAIN, and with feeling, that both women are being “run” in the Oscar Derby, equally, and that all the stories and rumors about both of them, are nothing but “Stirring the Pot”. “It’s because it’s two women, and they are both playing Lesbians and they have to have something to write about. None of it is true. They are both equal.”

But the ever dapper Scott did admit that he thought Natalie Portman was the leading contender in the Best Actress category, and I concurred.

“Did you see it?” he said, And I said, yes, and that I agreed with him, and that I loved her in it.

“AND SHE DANCES?!?” I exclaimed,” Degree of difficulty!” The Academy counts things like that.

And then we both remarked that in the Hollywood Reporter’s recent  Best Actress Issue Roundtable video, Natalie Portman said NOTHING. And the others were all looking at her, like…well, through tense smiles I would say. Or gritted teeth. Judge for yourself at www.hollywoodreporter.com

The others were Amy Adams and Hilary Swank, both of whom very well may not be nominated, so what were they doing there? Annette Bening(but NOT Julianne Moore), Nicole Kidman and Helena Bonham Carter(who would be in Supporting, for both “The King’s Speech” and “Alice in Wonderland.”)

“Natalie Portman said NOTHING!” Scott exclaimed.

“She just sat there and grinned,” I said.

And I was thinking “Who does that grin remind me of? Oh! The Cheshire Cat! It’s a grin that says ‘I know I’m going to win.”

 And I agreed with Scott again. She didn’t need to say anything. She was the least needy of the group.

And we both again agreed on Colin Firth for “Best Actor” for “King’s Speech.”

“Yeah, he’s got it,” we both said simultaneously, almost.

And the irony of this Party for the Nominees was that there were virtually no nominees.

Except for Oliver Platt, who was wearing a full face of make-up. He was announcing the nominees for their new Genius Award, which is like a people’s choice award in that emails were taken from the public to determine the nominees.Platt was nominated as part of the Ensemble of”Please Give,” a film that went by in a blip.

I didn’t hear who was nominated as Geniuses, but I’m sure they’ll send me a press release list later, and I’ll add them in. I couldn’t hear because I was too busy going on an Oscar egg hunt with Scott Feinberg.

So besides Scott and Bryan Brown of  www.Indiewire.com and Oliver Platt, I didn’t recognize anybody. And nobody could point any of the nominees out to me. Not even the programmers of the Awards! “Producers,” I was told, “It’s mostly producers who are here.” But nobody knew who they were. OR what films they were with…VERY frustrating.

I do know that the irony of the evening was those rooms full of expensive suits. The kind of suits that Indpendent Filmmakers could NEVER in their wildest dreams afford. I certainly couldn’t. Maybe Scott Feinberg can.

But the humanity of it all was summed up to me by the dashing Dunhill Executive of All Media, Jason Beckley, who was British,and who I thought was a Nominee, an Independent Film Star, or at the very least a director, but no, he has Dunhill’s Marketing Director and just flew in from London for this event.

Marketing Director Beckley said, in all sincerity, that “Alfred Dunhill wants to be associated more and more with culture. With the Arts. With Cinema. That’s why we’re sponsoring this party here.”

And he meant it. And if that’s the case, it’s a good thing. And I’m glad I went.

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