a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘David Poland’

David Carr Dead at 58 at the NY Times. A Great Man Gone too soon.

David Carr, who I had the privilege of knowing, was one of the greats, and he dropped dead in the offices of the New York Times, the paper where he worked, and which he loved.

He was like a character out of Damon Runyon. So his Times Square Media beat fit him perfectly. With his raspy voice, and that penetrating gaze, and his odd-ball looks, he could very well have stepped from the pages of “Guys and Dolls” accept he worked for the NYTimes.So he wasn’t a gansta. He was a SUCCESSFUL Damon Runyon character. But he did have the great compassion for the down-and-outers of the world, having been, unbelievably, a former drug addict himself.

He got himself clean more than a decade ago and wrote a book about it, too. “The Night of the Gun.”

I got to him know when he was creating the Oscar beat at the NYTimes, which was something completely new to them, at the time. A regular blog on the Oscars? And he called it “The Carpetbagger” as in Red Carpet, and he felt like he was a carpetbagger, that ole Civil War term, because he felt like an interloper at these ceremonies. And he had a side-kick, too. My friend Paula Schwartz, whom he called “the Baguette.”

He wrote about the Oscar race incredibly well, not giving quarter to any one or any film. And he did love films. I think he was the one who coined the phrase “the silly season” to describe what we are now in. Which is less than two weeks from Oscar.

He always was encouraging, supportive of any one who was doing what he was doing, trying to make sense, and news, out of the Oscars. He liked me because of my Oscar obsession and my friendships with other Oscarologists. I think I was a Guru o’ Gold for Movie City News at the time.

He loved Sasha Stone and David Poland. And he wrote about them in his column as they had never been covered before, especially Sasha. She wrote ANOTHER incredible piece on her relationship with David, and the shock of his passing at http://www.awardsdaily.com It’s a must read. Every time he was out in L.A., Sashino was his date of choice. Yes, Sashino was Sasha, as Paula was the Baguette. He gave nick-names to people he really liked.

I remember him storming into a press meet-and-great for the film “Milk,” practically shouting at the top of his lungs about a film he’d just had to sit through, “‘Australia’ is a piece of shit!” It was an epic about that continent and he was so vehement about the 2 or 3 hours that were stolen out of his life by this film (which got no Oscar consideration whatsoever, as it turned out), I chose to skip it myself.

He was always very nattily dressed at these events, with the trademark grey scarf that you see him pictured with here.

I knew I was in the presence of a great man, a great writer, a great reporter, one of the giants of our time, and I am so sorry he’s gone. I wish I knew him better.David Carr

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David Poland thinks its btwn. “Boyhood”, “Theory of Everything” and “Imitation Game”

Boyhood 2Theory2David Poland, the great Oscar prognosticator, of “Movie City News”, who was one of the ones who practically founded today’s Oscar race online, has just posted his “Settling” analysis of this year’s race. Something I always look forward to. Previously, he has called it “The Great Settling” and this year however he calls it “The Soft Settling.”

David, full disclosure, was once my boss. Yes, I was once a Guru o’ Gold, and then a Guru 2.0. Well, anyway, I digress…

David has his ear closer to the ground and hears more from more people who are actually Academy voters, and to sum up, he calls it “The Soft Settling”, because he thinks the race is still wide open. I wonder about that.

He interestingly has of course, this year’s de rigueur choice, “Boyhood” in #1, but thinks it’s between that film and the two “Brit pics” “Theory of Everything” And “The Imitation Game.” Which he feels are going to cancel each other out.

But he doesn’t think “Birdman” has an outside chance, though he thinks it will get nominated. He is hearing that the Academy types are resisting it as “too weird” and “too out there”. I think he’s right. But we soon shall see and tomorrow TA DA! The Producers Guild announce their top ten, or IOW their ten nominees which is really, really important. But he does think that the four movies I’ve mentioned above plus “Selma” will all be in. The other five are what’s up in the air still. Can’t wait til tomorrow when we find out!

Check out David’s great piece at the link below ~

http://moviecitynews.com/2015/01/20-weeks-to-oscar-the-soft-settling/

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Oscar Bloggers Anne Thompson & I Predict the Oscars in SEPT. Not Much Has Changed…

How very little has changed since TIFF! The Toronto International Film Festival sets the stage and runs the table for Oscar starting and some would say ending in September! If you’re not screened at Toronto, it’s becoming increasingly harder to catch up. I’m looking at YOU “American Hustle”, “Wolf of Wall Street”, “All is Lost” and “Inside Llewyn Davis” to name just a few.

Anne and I were BOTH not even mentioned in the New York Magazine Oscar Blogger article which just came out in this week’s New York Magazine. Where my wonderful Sasha Stone and the great Jeff Wells were the centerpieces of said supposed last word on Oscar Blogging.

Anne, classy lady that she is, probably declined to be interviewed for this piece, I’m just guessing. HitFix was also left out completely. Go figure. Next year, Boris, CALL ME!!!!

E.T.A. The only big change since taping this scene is that we now both know how to pronounce AND SPELL Lupita Nyong’o!!! And so does the world!!!!

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And the Oscar Goes to…

And the Oscar Goes to...

Well, it’s a little premature to say that but that indeed is the name of the marvelous documentary by Jeffrey Friedman and Rob Epstein that was commissioned by TCM, Turner Classic Movie, for this marvelous month they have every year entitled ’30 days of Oscar.”

It started airing tonight and its essential viewing for all you Oscarologists out there. glamorous, gorgeous, sumptuous, moving, extremely well-costumed and all the adjectives in between “And the Oscar Goes to…” delights for its’ nearly two-hour length.

New to me, the fact that the Academy used to hand out its’ list of winners to the press BEFOREHAND until in 1940, the L.A. Times really jumped the gun and published that year’s information WAY too soon. Henceforth, AMPAS turned its’ tabulations over to Price, Waterhouse, now Price, Waterhouse, Cooper, the accounting firm that has kept the Oscars honest(and top secret) to this day.

Having an awards show without suspense is a rather dreary prospect, and since those days suspense has been an important ingredient in the Oscar season. VERY important. Who’s going to win? Is the big question that is on my mind and Sasha Stone’s mind, and Tom O’Neill’s mind, and David Poland’s mind all year long. And on Harvey Weinstein’s, too, I daresay.

So as we await the Writer’s Guild winners tonight, I can breathlessly say that yes, even mighty http://www.goldderby.com has changed its’ collective mind over what’s going to win Best Picture. Tom O’Neil agrees with Tariq Khan in one of their entertaining podcasts that they both think that “12 Years a Slave” is now going to win Best Picture. Which is what I’ve been saying ever since I saw it in Toronto.

Nothing is going to upset Cate Blanchett’s continuing March of Triumph to Best Actress. UNLESS something shocking happens at the BAFTAS in two weeks. Dame Judi Dench could upset there as the incredibly sympathetic “Philomena”. In fact, the BAFTAS could throw a monkey wrench into a LOT of Oscar campaigns. Like for instance, if Chiwetel Ejiafor wins there, and as a highly regarded British actor, he probably will for his historic portrayal of Solomon Northup, the black man who was kidnapped and spent “12 Years a Slave” prior to the Civil War.

Mathew McConaughey, and also front-runner in Best Supporting Actor Jared Leto, both Oscar nominated for their tremendous work in “Dallas Buyers’ Club” are not even nominated AT ALL for the BAFTAS, so neither can win. And if Ejiofor makes the Speech of Speeches which I think he will…look out, Matthew McConaughey!…

And Michael Fassbender could do the same thing, since he’s nominated,for Best Supporting Actor, and Jared Leto isn’t. Fassbender, of course, plays the evil slave owner Epps. And I’m just betting that the BAFTAS could turn the Oscar race upside own.

And Britisher Steve McQueen will probably win there as Best Director and not Alphonso Cuaron, who won the DGA award for directing “Gravity.” All three of these astoundingly talented men could win and probably will win at the BAFTAS.

So Oscar LOOK OUT!

And as everyone seems to be picking up on Lupita Nyong’O’s star continues to rise and rise in Best Supporting Actress.There’s nothing that can stop her. And I predict she’s a slam dunk for the BAFTAS, too.

So in this quiet period before the BAFTAS happen in London, treat yourself to “30 Days of Oscar” on TCM and don’t miss “And the Oscar Goes to…” Check out the full schedule at http://www.tcm.com

Roger Ebert, a Legend Passes. The World Mourns.

It is inconceivable to me that the Pulitzer-Prize winning Film Critic Roger Ebert, who was a guest on my show, and who I had interactions with over the many years that I knew him, has passed at age 70. I thought he would always be there. His courage, his fight against his many disabling illnesses was heroic. And he had a wonderful wife, Chazz, to help him.

The world is mourning his loss, but the impact he made on all our screen-going lives is incalculable.

He and Gene Siskel were always ever-present presences in my living room as a Bronx teenager growing up. On my TV. In the newspapers. They informed a generation. They changed film criticism, if not filmgoing forever. And then Siskel was gone, too soon. And now Roger is gone, too.

To the many accolades & elegies & tributes, I feel I should just add my own personal reminiscences.

I met Roger for the first time at the Toronto Film Festival something like fourteen or fifteen years ago. He was lumbering down the street, heading off to yet another screening, as was I, and I couldn’t believe whom I had just run into! He was wearing a long, green-ish grey trenchcoat and carrying a brief case. He could’ve been just another harried businessman in a rush to get to work, but no, it was the Legend Even Then, Roger Ebert!

I said “Hello!” and introduced myself, and told him how much I admired his work. And he was not dismissive or aloof. He was immediately approachable. He was interested in what I thought. As a fellow film critic who also had a television show, I was instantly a friend. We were in the trenches together. I think he loved all reporters. He was first, last and always a journalist at heart.
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As the years went by at TIFF, he was a constant presence. He always arrived on a Friday, the day after the film festival started, always on a Thursday. And I would encounter him over and over in the Press Room, collecting his credentials, and on the streets of Toronto. He always had time to stop and say “Hi.”

Once I asked him how he had managed to lose so much weight, something I’ve always struggled with, too, and he happily showed me his ped-o-meter, which was a new device at the time.

“It’s all due to this,” he claimed. “I walk.That’s all I do. I walk. You should get one of these. They’re great.”

And once I was lucky enough to have one of my cameramen in action in the press area and got a brief hello from him on camera.

How did he feel about this year’s Festival? What was he looking forward to seeing?

I remember him saying, looking at the gigantic, telephone-sized TIFF catalogue, which has not reduced with time, by the way, only gotten heavier.

And he said, “Once I figure out how to get through this MAZE, ” indicating the catalogue.

There was more, but I guess I’m so upset about his passing and Richard Griffiths, too, occurring within days of each other that my mind is a blank, a confusion of griefs.

My cameraman was from Montreal that year, and he called himself “The Gnome.” That much I remember. And he had a very small camera, sort of the forerunner of today’s flip-cam and Roger asked The Gnome to look at it.

He seemed delighted by anything and everything filmic, even this small camera. “Oh, I have one of those just like it!” he exclaimed. “They’re very good.”

Positive.Positive.Positive. The man just radiated warmth and kindness and I knew, I always knew I was in the presence of a great man.

When I mentioned that Roger was on my TV show http://www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow, albeit briefly to David Poland, also at TIFF, whom I recognized from HIM being such a frequent regular on Roger’s show, after Gene passed. David said something like “I’m impressed. He’s very hard to pin down.”

I can say my Internet career began from that moment of David’s interest in me.

So in a sense, Roger Ebert changed my life. Or my career, which is my life.

THEN I was one of the probably many, many film critcs, who was being considered for sitting opposite him, as he stealth-auditioned many reviewers, like David, to fill Gene’s chair. This was before the onset of Richard Roeper, who finally got the job.

I had conversations with his staff secretary, a cheery woman. I had to send her tapes. Yes, my show was on VHS tapes at the time. So I sent several of my best shows to “At the Movies” offices in Chicago. I spoke on the phone. I corresponded with them, but no, I never got to go on TV, never got to go to Chicago.

I remember his gal saying that “Young people are always disappointed when they get here and see that there are no movie stars around. Just Roger. And lots of film clips.”

For the record, he never had an Out gay man on the show with him. The closest he got to an LGBT personage was the great B. Ruby Rich, from San Francisco, who coined the phrase “Queer Cinema.” And she and Roger were great together. As was David Poland and Roger.

David was the closest I think to Gene Siskel’s chemistry with Roger. David has never been one to mince words or call a spade a spade and he gave as good as he got. And Roger liked that.

And David was urban, a former New Yorker, now living in L.A. and Jewish. Roger liked all those things too. And sadly Richard Roeper prevailed. I always thought David would’ve been great on that show.

But it was because of my connection with Roger that led me to David and to becoming a Guru o’ Gold at http://www.moviecitynews.com

And the rest as they say is history.

And oh, yes, Sasha Stone http://www.awardsdaily. helped immensely, too. And still does, to this day. One of my best friends of all time.

It was the year of “Brokeback Mountain” and the impact of that movie catapulted me out of the Gay Ghetto, into writing for straight people and their heterosexual audiences about the movies.I.E. David and Sasha. And I can trace all that, I feel, back to Roger’s good will towards me.

Thank you, Roger Ebert. You were doing good even when you weren’t trying. R.I.P.

Oscar’s New “It” Girls ~Jennifer Lawrence V. Jessica Chastain

When it was announced last week that one of Oscar’s “It” Girls (last year’s version), was playing a leading role and not a supporting one, and was being campaigned as such, in the still-to-be-seen “Zero Dark Thirty,” the etherally beautiful redhead Jessica Chastain herself, it sent Oscarologists scrambling like frightened chickens.

Because OF COURSE the brilliant Chastain, who was a Supporting Actress nominee last year in “The Help”(she lost to cast member Octavia Spenser) was going to turn the Best Actress race upside down and shoot to the top of everyone’s list, again sight unseen. Well, wasn’t she?

Everybody and his brother it seems is trying to topple purported front-runner for “Silver Linings Playbook”, the Weinstein Co.s Oscar “It” girl and a former nominee for Best Actress for “Winter’s Bone”, Jennifer Lawrence.

It is said the equally beautiful Lawrence is so out in front of all other contenders this year at the tender age of 22, that all we who do this are left with is trying to figure who else will be nominated, not who will win in that coveted category. Jennifer Lawrence has already won this. So say ye pundits all.

St. Ann Thompson of http://www.indirewire.com Thompson on Hollywood says that Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook” is a “slam-dunk” Lawrence also tops the Gurus o’ Gold chart by double digits. Check them out at David Poland’s http://www.moviecitynews.com. She’s Numero Uno at http://www.Goldderby.com, too  . I saw “SLP” today and I have to admit, yup, I think they might all just be right.

Light as air and paper thin as a potato chip, for all its’ background setting of manic depression and mental hospitals, “Silver Linings Playbook”s Jennifer Lawrence won me over. In spite of myself. I wasn’t a fan. I didn’t “Get” her, but now I do. She’s the new Elizabeth Taylor.

She’s an incredibly beautiful and photogenic young woman with a slammin’ body. She’s big, too, in all the right places.At 5’9′,’statuesque would be a good way of putting it. Curvaceous. And you see, she makes everyone fall in love with her. And yes, that’s a list that now includes me. Until today, an ardent anti-fan.

In “Silver Linings Playbook,” she won me over. She didn’t have me at “Hello,” but by the end of this film, she had me. She’s moving. You come to care about her. It’s her, a not the male lead “The Hangover”s Bradley Cooper, who is the emotional center of this wacky, wonky, weird film.

She’s got timing on her side,too. Oscarologists call it “momentum.”

It’s ONCE AGAIN ” a weak year for Best Actresses.” Some say the front-runner is 8-year-old Qu’venzhane Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” And even though I have just been informed that she has indeed joined SAG, the disqualification of her from SAG Award voting consideration still, unfortunately, stands.

So Jennifer Lawrence’s massive lead still endures, and she’s VERY sympathetic in SLP. She’s poignant. She’s trying to get  Cooper’s Manic Depressive mess, Patrick, to fall in love with her, and what director/writer David O. Russell is also deftly doing is trying to get the audience,the WORLD to fall in love with her damaged widow and ex-sex-addict Tiffany. And it seems to be  working. Lawrence may be crowned in February, the new Queen of Hollywood.

“Silver Linings Playbook” won the Audience Award at Toronto and also the Hamptons Film Festivals. And the Weinstein Co. is seeing this as their major Oscar contender now that “The Master” has pretty much tanked all over the place.

The release date says everything about an Oscar seeking film. And Harvey Weinstein knows how to position his fillies JUST RIGHT. I thought that “The Master”s early Sept. bow was odd, to say the least.

And the still unseen “Django Unchained” is opening strangely late. On Christmas Day, no less. For a Quentin Tarantino civil war/revenge tale with a great deal of gore in store, that seems a bit late, too. And a bit odd.

But HW placed “Silver Linings Playbook” just right. Right in the middle of Oscar season’s Phase One. Which is RIGHT NOW. That should have told us everything. In fact, TWC has even moved its’ release date one week earlier. To NEXT week. And then it’s going wide. VERY wide.

In the end “Silver Linings Playbook” is a Rom Com. A very well done and starrily cast rom-com with Robert DeNiro,  even, as the hero’s OCD Dad. And it’s not much more than that. And it’s the old Boy Meets Girl, Boy Loses Girl, Boy Gets Girl story. Comedies and comedic performances like Lawrence’s don’t usually get the gold. Soubrettes don’t win Oscars. Or do they?

So therefore someone with gravitas, like the Juilliard-trained Jessica Chastain, it is thought, could sneak in with a last-minute serious role in a drama. Anthony Breznican, the new Oscar Analyst at EW, puts Jessica first and she’s even *gasp* on the COVER of their upcoming Holiday Preview Issue. And so is “Les Mis” and Bilbo Baggins and  Abraham Lincoln and Santa Claus.

So gentlemen, it looks like we have a contest brewing for Bactress.

Chastain’s the CIA operative, who for ten years drives the hunt to find and kill Osama Ben Laden. “Zero Dark Thirty” is the code name for this operation. And Katherine Bigelow, the first female director to ever have won an Oscar (for “The Hurt Locker” three years ago), is helming it. Marc Boal of “The Hurt Locker” did the screenplay and it’s film editor, is the same film editor who just edited “Argo” so stirringly. Is that good or bad? The trailers look AWFULLY similar to “Argo”s and in them Chastain utters not ONE WORD. Er,….Are they hiding something? Saving the best for last?

So of course this news is giving Oscarologists pause. Chastain was in a staggering SEVEN films last year. And her range is thought to be limitless. I have never seen her be anything less than brilliant.

Until last night when I saw “The Heiress” on Broadway and the role of the spinterish, repressed Catherine Sloper, defeated her roundly in the first act. Chastain, like Lawrence, is a great beauty, and both Chastain and Lawrence are well on their way to being screen legends.

Lawrence, in “The Hunger Games” raked in a total of something like $400 million this year, quite a feat for a franchise anchored on a woman.

But I just couldn’t buy Chastain as homely and socially awkward in the first act in the worst wig I’ve ever seen on a Broadway stage.”The Heiress” Act I was like a bad sitcom.

Cherry Jones on Bway in ’95 (she won a Tony) and Olivia de Havilland in the classic movie (she won an Oscar ) were too clearly in my mind. They really SEEMED plain. They weren’t ACTING plain. Plain is something you can’t act anyway. But in “The Heiress” Jessica Chastain unfortunately tries to do so. And that wig makes her look like a white Topsy.

However in the second act, when Catherine begins to transform, Chastain changes into a better wig, which helped her  step up her game and passably helped her redeem herself. But only just. She was totally believable by the chilling end of “The Heiress.”

Two time Tony Winner Judith Ivey stole the show as the pitty-pattiest of Aunts. And director Moises Kaufman’s all-over-the map direction directed everybody except Ivey in the wrong direction. Ivey had the Henry James style right and showed up everyone else as hollow or misguided.

Chastain also had no help at all from the men on stage with her, the usually reliable David Strathairn and the all-but-invisible “Downtown Abbey”s Dan Stevens. Strathairn seemed to be trying to make the necessary ogre of Catherine’s father, Dr. Sloper into someone nice and warm, almost like a tea-cozy. And Dan Stevens seemed to disappear into the furniture every time he appeared to enter .

On screen, Sir Ralph Richardson, in his greatest screen performance,, was frightening beyond belief as one of the most monstrous fathers in cinema history. And Montgomery Clift, in his movie debut, was unforgettable as the wastrel suitor, Morris Townsend. IOW, Chastain couldn’t carry his rangey leading role. Or did so just by the skin of her beautiful teeth.

Will her role in “Zero Dark Thirty” be strong enough to upset Jennifer Lawrence’s Oscar Love Fest? Will dark drama trump light comedy?  We’ll just have to wait and see.

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Early Oscar Predictions! Anthony Del Col & Stephen Holt

The latest Oscar news! Canadian Kulture Vulture of Rogers TV, the ultra-sharp Anthony Del Col, the co-creator of “Kill Shakespeare,” was in town for Comic Con ’12 and we got to talking about “Argo,” “The Master,””Les Misearbles,” the mysterious Snuggles4 at www.goldderby.com and many other Oscar dillys, dallys & doozies!! Enjoy!

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