a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Gerard Butler’

TIFF ’11 Lists, Best, Worst, Couldn’t Get In To See, etc.

So, in short form,(I hope) some TIFF lists ~

Best Film – Machine Gun Preacher

Runner-Up- The Artist, Drive, The Skin I Live In, Coriolanus

Best Actor – Gerard Butler in “Machine Gun Preacher”

Runner-ups- Ryan Gosling “Drive,” Ralph Fiennes in “Coriolanus”, Jean Dujardin “The Artist”

Best Actress – Elena Anaya “The Skin I Live In” (Pedro Almodovar’s hot new film)

Runner-Up- Tilda Swinton “We’ve Got to Talk About Kevin,; Rachel Weisz “The Deep Blue Sea”

Best Supporting Actor- Gerard Butler “Coriolanus”

Runner-Up – Tom Hiddleston & Simon Russell Beale in “Deep Blue Sea”, that adorable  little dog in “The Artist”

Best Supporting Actress- Vanessa Redgrave “Coriolanus”

Runner-Ups – Marisa Peredes in “The Skin I Live In”, Tammy Blanchard in “Union Square,” Berenice Bejos “The Artist”

Worst TIFF “Rendition”-like Bomb (It died in one TIFF screening) – “A Dangerous Method”

Films I Tried to See, But Couldn’t – “Shame”, “Descendants”, “Albert Nobbs”

Hoping to See Soon – “The Ides of March”

Couldn’t Care Less About Seeing – “Moneyball”

Oscar Mix-Up of the Morning! And I’m on “Machine Gun Preacher”s Fan Page!

This is suddenly turning into a very “The Artist”-centric morning.

I’m so tech-tarded. You all know that. And I’ve only been doing this Blog a year and I’ve only been on Facebook not even a year yet. I think I started in October ’10. Or later.

And THIS morning, I made the mistake of thinking that a TOPIC, or a HEADER on Facebook, is the same thing as a thread discussion. WHICH CHANGES.

Facebook just shows you the last two posts in a thread, so when this morning Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone was writing about how her favorite #1 movie of the year so far was “Shame” I typed in a response that I was shut out of seeing it at a Press and Industry screening of it at TIFF. It was full by the time that I got there. Often happens. Should’ve gotten there earlier….

And then Sasha thought that what I was referring to was – “The Artist”!!!!! Which is what the topic of the thread had CHANGED to. Not “Shame”.

No. I had seen “The Artist” at the MONTREAL Film Festival and written about it, for www.Awardsdaily.com called “The “Artist” Delights!….”

I just should’ve checked the HUGE amount of responses and comments Sasha gets on Facebook before I ever reply or comment on her threads again.

And in other Facebook news, I was SHOCKED! SHOCKED! To see my Oscar Messenger interview with Gerard Butler and Michelle Monaghan up on the “Machine Gun Preacher”s fan page! Now THAT’s never happened to me, before, like EVAH!

And then, I check my “News” section and guess what? The Hollywood Reporter” also referenced it on a thread of theirs about TIFF! And also referenced this humble BLOG! I couldn’t believe it! I guess I mean they linked to it.

Now I can’t find it! But it WAS there earlier! I swear!

Meanwhile, Sasha’s comment made me think that I hadn’t mentioned how I felt “The Artist” was received at TIFF. And it was liked, but NOT overwhelmingly so. I thought that it would be but it wasn’t. It wasn’t this year’s “King Speech” groundswell-on-everyone’s-lips type of reaction. So THAT kind of surprised me. I thought that it would be.

But y’know what that’s actually GOOD I think for TWC.(The Weinstein Co.) who OF COURSE don’t want their Best Picture possible contender to peak too early. Like “Up In the Air” did…(not their film, but just saying…)

So I think it will be VERY interesting to see what wins the TIFF Audience Choice Award. Which is the only award TIFF gives out, really. And the smart audiences at Toronto, really do have their fingers on the pulse. For instance, “The King’s Speech” won last year.

And “The Artist’ could win that award this year. OR it could be “The Descendants”. OR even “Machine Gun Preacher.”

So keep your eyes peeled for that announcement, dear cineastes, dear readers. With no clear favorite, to me at least, this year, THAT award will be a REALLY interesting and perhaps important choice and Oscar indicator.So don’t miss it!

Back in New York, it’s freeeezing! TIFF is just about over, but the Oscar race is just beginning!

I’m back in New York from the increasingly chilly weather of Toronto, and I hate to leave TIFF, as always. It’s like the circus is packing up and all the excitement is dying down…til next year…OR til the New York Film Festival starts, which is Monday! The press screenings I mean.

Which like TIFF, in some kind of weird film festival tradition are almost always held at ridiculous hours of the morning!

But I digress! I come back to find that while my own personal TIFF is now done, the Oscar race is only just beginning! But you all knew that already!

Jeff Wells of www.hollywood-elsewhere.com is still there, blogging his brains out. And having a completely different perspective on the race than I do. And that goes for Oscar goddess Sasha Stone of www.awardsdaily.com

who is comfy and warm in sunshine-y L.A….

Sasha has a particularly interesting take on the Best Actor race. As does Jeff. But both of them leave out Gerard Butler and his career-changing performance in “Machine Gun Preacher” completely! I beg to differ.

The night I left I was delighted to see ET Canada do a whole segment on Gerard and his Oscar chances. And the films’ too!

And I also have to beg to differ about Brad Pitt and “Moneyball.”

“Moneyball”? REALLY? A baseball movie? I mean, they DO like to keep nominating him for the star-power he brings to things…but if he’s going to be nominated this year for anything it’s Terence Malick’s “A Tree of Life”…which is serious, and pretentious enough for the Academy.

Or maybe in  this case, toooo pretentious. I predict that first 45 mins. of primordial ooze is something that is NOT going to keep those “Tree of Life” screeners from being ejected from Academy voters’ DVD players…

However Sasha and Jeff ARE right about George the Clooney being everywhere and charming everyone and everything in sight. I didn’t get to see EITHER of his two TIFF movies “The Ides of March” and “The Descendants” which everyone says is the better of the two.

But I don’t personally think that David Cronenberg’s TIFF bomb “A Serious Judgement” is going to get any serious Oscar consideration whatsoever. And that neither of its’ leading men, Viggo Mortensen or Michael Fassbender are going to be nominated for Best Actor or ANYthing for this film.

Anthony Del Col, and also Critic of Critics Thelma Adams join me at www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

for some VERY spirited Oscar buzz talk from TIFF. Thank you Anthony! Thank you Thelma!

Thelma’s segment is not up yet, but stop-the-presses Anthony is! And it’s great! Take a look as we try to parse Tilda Swinton’s Oscar chances for “We’ve Got to Talk About Kevin.”

It was Anthony’s idea to sit-in with me for a running Oscar commentary at TIFF. This is Anthony Del Col of “Kill Shakespeare” fame and he’s VERY good at this!

As he is at everything! We taped two complete episodes which equals something like six videos in You Tube time and I can’t WAIT for you to see them all!

I also have to point out that “The Ides of March” was underwhelming everyone I spoke to. Especially Anthony and Thelma, as you’ll see. I don’t think “Ides” is an Oscar slam-dunk by any means, though Oscar god Dave Karger says so.

If the TIFF tea leaves are being read right by me & co., it’s “The Descendants” all the way. Which means also if Ryan Gosling is nominated for anything, or more accurately for any of the two of his films that are out now, it’s going to be “Drive” that drives up people’s (and Oscar voters) temperatures and not “Ides.”

When you’ve got two films in Oscar play at a place like TIFF, one is usually going to eclipse the other, and I think that’s what happening with “Ides” and “Descendants” and “Drive.” The two “D”(entitled) movies are faring better on the TIFF buzz circuit, I would say.

But it WAS interesting in that there was no clear front-runner AT ALL. Not like “The King’s Speech” was last year and others like “Slumdog Millionaire” and “No Country for Old Men” were in other years’ at TIFF.

So I’m back, dear readers, dear cineastes, dear theatre-lovers of literature, and tomorrow night the BROADWAY season starts with a revival of “Follies” one of Stephen Sondheim’s greatest, so when the autumn breeze starts freezing the trees, I feel like TIFF’s warmth was one big fever dream!

TIFF on Tuesday

It’s Tuesday morning at TIFF, and this is the day the Toronto International Film Festivals really changes. It’s the day all the Americans leave and basically turn the Festival back over to the Canadians. It’s so quiet in the TIFF Bell Lightbox this morning. The lobby looked deserted. Tumbleweeds could be rolling through it. It’s really scary, in the sense that, why am I still here?

Well, in the first place, you just don’t want TIFF to end, ever. And the atmosphere once it starts rolling is intoxicating. I’ve been here over a week now. And I still love it.

The first weekend is craziness personified. And yes, Brad and Angelina were here. That was for “Moneyball.” Hardly an Oscar movie it seems and if you don’t like baseball, which I DON’T, you won’t like this movie, so I’m told. Then Saturday seemed to be George Clooney day. I did see him from the Media Lounge’s TV screen. Almost a movie screen, it’s so big. But then it’s TIFF where everything is a movie screen let’s face it. Including the walls, the interior walls of the lobby.

Images are being projected everywhere. It’s trippyy, and delightful. But it is something akin to sensory overload. But again, I like it.

They used to have a 24-hour TV channel here in Toronto that just broadcast festival news for the entire length of TIFF, and before. Heaven! But they don’t have it any more. So all I can really check on my TV now is the weather, which every day is predicted to rain and the sunshine is dazzling. THANK GOODNESS!

I’m dressed for summer! I never want this lovely warm weather  to end! But it’s Canada, and last year about this time there was suddenly a cold snap, and BOY, did it get chilly! FAST! And I wasn’t dressed for that.

But even though it’s TIFF Blue Tuesday, there’s still PLENTY to do.

With George Clooney having two movies here, he certainly was a presence, even though I only saw him on the screen in the media lounge, as I said. People STILL love him and I tried to catch his “Descendants” movie this morning at 9AM(!?! I HATE those early screenings!) but I missed it.

So here I am talking to YOU.

And I’ll just have to catch up with “Descendants” at the New York Film Festival.

The Weinstein Co. is having a quiet festival, which is odd. Oh, except for Madonna. Who was walking the Red Carpet yesterday for “W.E.” which is the film she directed. And yes, I didn’t see that one either.

I have a lot to catch up on.

There is no one film that has a glorious, uproarious, across the board consensus. Like “The King’s Speech,” “Slumdog Millionaire”, and “No Country for Old Men” did in previous TIFFs all of whom went on to win the Best Picture Oscar.

So that means, well, that we’re going to an actual race, with many contenders, or that simply The Big One, the eventual Best Picture winner is simply not here, and will open later this year.

My favourite is still “Machine Gun Preacher.”

And now I have to go watch this year’s “Pitch This” which this year, Anthony Del Col of last year’s winner “Kill Shakespeare” which you all are now VERY familiar with who read this blog and watch my show, Anthony is coaching TWO hopefuls, and afterwards we’re interviewing everyone in sight. Including Anthony, again, and Mariangiola Castrovilli, the red-headed Italian Zsa Zsa Gabor.

So there’s PLENTY to do. Even if I missed George’s BIG Oscar movie, which is the “Descendants” everybody here seems to think and NOT “The Ides of March.” Which seems to have disappointed  every one who’s seen it.

Gerard Butler’s “Machine Gun Preacher” mows down the Oscar competition at TIFF!

Is it only Day Three? I feel like I’ve been here, at TIFF, my entire life! You enter into a Festival Time Warp (when a film festival is really working right and you’re out-of-town, especially) It’s a Film Festival Bubble that in some major ways you never want to burst. And return to reality but TIFF’s magic is in  full swing now. I think in the real world, it’s Saturday evening,and I’ve got to head out momentarily to the tres swank Unifrance party. Always a high point.

But ANOTHER high-point for sure was interviewing the great Gerard Butler today and telling him that ( I hope) he’s going to be going to the Oscars come February for the unforgettable “Machine Gun Preacher” which also is going to get a boatload of Oscar considerations in all categories.

You heard it here, first, folks. “Machine Gun Preacher” is one of the best film of the year, and Oscar may very well agree.

I predict that the Academy will not be able to resist the emotional powerhouse that is”Machine Gun Preacher.” And they certainly are not going to be able to resist the idea that Gerard Butler comes into his own as a magnificent screen actor whose acting chops match any one this or any Oscar season.

Playing a Real Life Action Hero and Savior of hundreds of lives in the war torn worst areas of Africa, Butler totally comes into his own and scares you to death in the first part of the film, where he plays a for-real criminal, and then morphs throughout the film into one of the most heroic men you’ll ever know of.

And I got to meet and interview the real life Lee Childers, who is a former career criminal and Pennsylvania red-neck and now is beyond reproach as someone is fighting the incredible fight in Africa. I can’t stop thinking about this movie! And you won’t either!

And neither will the Academy!

I got to tell Lee Childers, the screenwriter, director Marc Forster and Gerard Butler this news myself.
In person. This morning. At the Toronto International Film Festival.

I never thought I could realistically top my telling Colin Firth and director Tom Hooper of the “King’s Speech” that they were going to be winning Oscars that coming winter, only last year. This was also in the first days of the Toronto Film Festival. They were flabbergasted at the news. But yes, I was right. It was true. They did win.

And you can see me telling them this at http://www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

And very soon next week or sooner, I hope you’ll be able to see me work the same Oscar Messenger magic with “Machine Gun Preacher” on my You Tube Channel as well, with all these interviews I am so happy to be describing.

Let’s face it. George Clooney has already GOT an Oscar. And he’s got TWO movies here at TIFF vying for Oscar’s attention. “The Ides of March” and “The Descendants” They could easily cancel each other out. Tom Hanks, being directed by Stephen Daldry in the upcoming 9/11 drama, has already got TWO Oscars and these two along with Jean DuJardin of “The Artist” are so far Gerard Butler’s competition for Best Actor nods. Oh, yes, and Ryan Gosling too for “Drive” OR “The Ides of March.”

George was campaigning madly at Telluride evidently earlier this month, but…

Gerard Butler has not been nominated ever and he’s the right age and at the right point in his career to receive this honor. and recognition. I hope he gets it.

“Machine Gun Preacher” is going to be a film that this year, the Academy won’t be able to ignore.

Oscar Buzz continues at TIFF for Gerard Butler & “Machine-Gun Preacher”! And Tilda Swinton, too!

Now as one  film’s career rises and another falls, it’s fascinating to watch the ups and downs that one screening can lead to at TIFF. It’s like a thumbs up and/or a thumbs down from the Romans in the Colosseum.

And TIFF is giving a definite big THUMBS UP to both “Machine Gun Preacher,” which shocked and surprised me in all the right ways and “We’ve Got to Talk About Kevin ”  “Preacher”‘s got HEAVY Oscar potential. Gerard Butler is in a career-redefining role as the title character. And it seems very much like this year’s “Slumdog Millionaire.”

It’s a thoroughly griping action-er as well as being an amazing true story of this former alcoholic/drug addict/jail-bird (Butler) who totally gets his life under-control through the help of his devoted Christian wife(Michele Monaghan of “Trucker”) and ends up, like “Book of Mormon”s hapless elders in Uganda. And a very different Uganda from the one that’s selling out on Broadway.

It’s a desolate, lawless, hell-on-earth, where children routinely are dismembered and forced to kill their family members. And director Marc Forster(” Finding Neverland”) keeps the adrenaline pumping and the danger level high as the reformed Butler barrels through the African wilderness like a born-again Rambo, trying to save all the children, and there seem to miliions…who are desparately in need of medicine, schools, orphanages. And Butler tries to build and re-build all of them. AND HE DOES!

The incredible arc his character goes through addiction, jail, murder, reformation, then heroics in the African wild are catnip to Oscar. And Butler hits all the right notes, and is utterly believable all the way through and back again. His scenes with the children will make audiences world-wide cry and stand up and cheer. He and this powerful film and its’ timely topic are definitely going to be part of the Oscar conversation.

Another to be hotly debated Oscar topic is going to be Tilda Swinton’s career best performance in “We’ve Got to Talk About Kevin”, an extremely disturbing and powerful look at another difficult and timely theme. What is it like to be the mother of a school shooter? A la Columbine. Swinton is magnificent but will audiences and Oscar voters be able to turn out to watch this? As great as it is, that’s the Oscar topic that is Tilda’s stumbling block here.

The handling of both these films by their campaigners and distributors will determine whether or not “Machine Gun Preacher” and “….Kevin” will be in the forefront of voters minds and DVD piles come this Christmas. They certainly SHOULD be, IMHO.

TIFF begins before it starts. Coriolanus’ Ralph Fiennes Masterpiece

As I quoted John Steinbeck earlier, before I left for Montreal, “Trips begin before they start.” And now TIFF has begun with a BANG! as I got to see a pre-TIFF screening of “Coriolanus,” which is the great Ralph Fiennes directorial debut as well as perhaps the best he’s ever been as an actor, which is saying A LOT .

As Coriolanus, himself, one of Shakespeare’s most troublesome heroes or anti-heroes or a character who heretofore has been virtually un-classifiable as well as over-looked. In doing all this re-imagining so magnificently, Fiennes has created his own masterpiece. It’s the absolute pinnacle of his career as an actor, and he’s the pretty damn good first time director, too!

Shakespeare’s great leading men were all supposed to be characters who had ONE tragic flaw, and Coriolanus’ was that he was supposedly “too proud.” And that has been the long and the short of it for centuries. Until now.

Ralph Fiennes has brilliantly re-thought and re-configured this tragedy and made it something very, very modern and timely and something that is definitive and totally his own. It’s an overwhelming Shakespearean as well as cinematic achievement.

In setting it in some kind of war-torn Eastern Europe setting -Bosnia? Serbia? and loading the first half hour up with almost unbearably unwatchable bloodshed, explosion, bombs, etc., he effectively illustrates that THIS is what Coriolanus can do. Make war. Kill people. Destroy every thing in his path. He’s the ultimate adrenaline junkie, like Jeremy Renner’s indelible soldier/killer character in “The Hurt Locker.”

And after that bloody initial first section of the film, which I thought was a tad overdone and overlong and not Shakespearean at all, and goes on forever, “Coriolanus” settles down to become what I have always believed it to be, Shakespeare’s only play about MOM.

Whether this is a veiled portrait of his own mother, Mary Arden, who was a staunch Catholic, in the Elizabethan days, when that meant death, Volumnia, always a good part, to my mind, here in the hands of the great Vanessa Redgrave, becomes one of Shakespeare’s most frightening and powerful villianesses. She practically tops Lady Macbeth here in that she’s Coriolanus’ MOM. The all-powerful, passive-aggressive military MOM, she  is as blood-thirsty and dangerous as any she-wolf-hound and as any of Shakespeare’s great bad gals.

Redgrave’s chilling performance vaults Volumnia into the ranks of one of the best characters that Shakespeare ever wrote, simply and forever.

And as she utters the foulest and most outrageous of Shakespeare’s dialogue, she is ever-so elegant and o so charming and as sweet as apple crumble  pie. She’s utterly, completely reasonable. Every inch a lady. She’s never a shrew, and she’s FRIGHTENING!

Shakespeare never really wrote about the topic of MOM so completely before or after. And Coriolanus, as Ralph Fiennes’ plays him so persuasively, is one sick puppy. A military one-man killing machine, he cannot deal with people or politics and gets ousted as consul by the people of Rome in mere hours or days after he is elected, because he simply can’t speak to them. He refuses to show them his wounds, literally, and the Roman rabble turns on him, in a split second and he is ousted from his home, his family, his country and labeled a traitor, simply because in modern terms, he has no social skills whatsoever.

He’s a great soldier, a great general, but all he can do is fight, fight, fight. He’s not humble about anything. And when the battle is over, he can’t stop fighting, with everyone around him, until the only person he has left to fight with is himself. As Fiennes’ character begins to lose it you realize that he is playing a self-destructive, mentally ill man. A paranoid, certainly. A schizophrenic, yes, perhaps.

But Fiennes’ in his interpretation, places all the blame for Fiennes’ descent into hell, squarely on the broad shoulders of  MOM, Vanessa. And Ms. Redgrave, now well into her later years, shows time does not stop for genius, as she lays her great actress’ s hands on Volumnia and shakes her and inflates her, until she grows and grows in to this GIANTESS of all-devouring, but socially sweet matron/dragon. She scares even as she charms, and her ultimate scene, the scene where outside the walls of Rome, she pleads for her city and for her vengeful, bat-shit crazy, beautiful son to come back to her. Come back to Rome! and Shakespeare and Fiennes has her kneeling over and over again pleading, cajoling, manipulating, begging, and that scene alone, says Oscar! Oscar! Oscar!

Redgrave also speaks Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter as if it were conversational speech. Another achievement. And since Volumnia’s lines and character are not as well-known as, say Lady Macbeth, every word she utters, every moment she has, seems absolutely FRESH.

I think one of the greatnesses of this instant classic of film, is that it redefines both Coriolanus and Volumnia as two of Shakespeare’s greatest characters, though until now they never appeared as such. The over-possesive mother and the wounded, crazy child.

Coriolanus’ problem was not that he was “too Proud”. It was his mother!

And Redgrave may very certainly be looking at another Oscar here. It’s going to be hard for any of the other ladies, who may be nominated as Best Supporting Actress(though in this film, she’s really the co-lead) to come up to ,or top this towering actress’  career-capping achievement in “Coriolanus.”

So what Fiennes has done is make this not a play about a patrician soldier, a play, or rather, a film about a play about a man at war with himself, and actually, a film about a man at war with his mother.

A mother who completely mis-reads and over-pushes and over-dominates her war-talented son. Fiennes and Redgrave do a memorable pas-de-deux here on Shakespeare’s only really stab at motherhood, literally. And stab at it, he does.

And with Harvey Weinstein as producer, you can be pretty sure both Fiennes and Redgrave are going to the Oscar dance this year. And Redgrave is certainly now the front-runner in her category. And how! And I hope she staggering achievement as Volumnia doesn’t overwhelm Fiennes’ Oscar chances as Best Actor. Or Best Director. Or both. It could. And it might. And his expert Voldemort in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt.2” may hurt him here. Or help him. It certianly could be confusing to Oscar voters. Maybe he’ll be nominated for BOTH performances!

Jessica Chastain as Coriolanus’ weepy, weak wife has virtually nothing to do except cry. And Gerard Butler is OK, but not Oscar worthy as Coriolanus arch-enemy, the king of the Volscians. (sp?)

More complex as more aptly a possible Supporting Actor nominee is British actor Brian Cox, who FINALLY gets a part he get sink his teeth into, as Coriolanus’ mediator, explicator and finally tragic go-between.

But the film is Fiennes’ and certainly Redgrave’s. Vanessa is the one to beat. But Fiennes is fine, fine, fine, too. The envelope, please…

Redgrave’s only Oscar blockage is her previous win decades ago for Julia, and her politics, but the Academy may overlook all this because her Volumnia is  so stupendous, charismatic overwhelming and frightening. She LOVES war more than any of the men in the film, and she has brought up her only son to be a killing machine, but she has not been able to make him a man.

And in Shakespeare’s play about a war against MOM, who do you think wins?

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