a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Jeff Wells’

Is “Birdman” Surging or Is It Oscar Hooey?

Birdman 1Is “Birdman” really experiencing a last-minute surge or is it all just Oscar hooey? Put out mainly by the hugest “Birdman” supporter of all, Jeff Wells at http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com. If you read him, and I do, daily, he’s a terrific writer, even if I don’t agree with him half the time, you’d think it’s “Birdman,Birdman,Birdman” all the way. But I wonder…

He and the greatest, most obsessed Oscar prognosticator of  them all Tom O’Neil at http://www.goldderby.com  have a very interesting phone chat they’d turned into a pod-cast, and it’s worth listening to.

Especially when JW reluctantly agrees that it’s Eddie Redmayne for Best Actor and not Michael Keaton. TON feels it’s now “Birdman”s to lose. Both Oscarologists function from deep in the heart of Hollywood as presumably they are hearing more than I do here on the East Coast. But here, I hear, it’s still “Boyhood.”

Their podcast is very interesting to hear the dynamic between the two men. They both are very respectful of each other. Tom more so than with any one else he’s podcasted with. And Jeffrey is much more tentative, nicer, in person, as I know him to be. He’s been a guest on my show. And Tom I’ve met many times at Oscar parties here in NYC.

Jeff’s writings on Hwd are fierce, fiery, bracing blasts of vitriol. And they’re so well written, you find yourself just agreeing with him, even when you don’t, because of the power of his angry missives.

But Tom, especially, I thought was less secure in his predicting “Birdman.” I was surprised. He even admits as much in the conversation.  So it STILL could be “Boyhood” despite “Birdman”s winning the PGA, DGA and SAG. But it LOST the Golden Globe for Best Comedy/Musical to “Grand Budapest Hotel” and it lost the BAFTA to “Boyhood.” Stats not to be trifled with. And it didn’t get nominated for Best Film Editing, which it seems you HAVE to have to win.

It’s been “Boyhood” for so long, that people think that’s it’s won already. The voting for the Oscars of 2015 closes FINALLY tomorrow. This has seemed like a particularly long year.

Well, “Whiplash” opened at Sundance last year last January and so did “Boyhood.” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” opened right around NOW last year, too. So we’ve been living with these films for a LONG time. “Oscar Island” as Sasha Stone calls it.

Even SHE is thinking that’s it’s both “Birdman” for Best Picture and also it’s director Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu for Best Director. And that if that’s the case “Boyhood” just gets Best Supporting Actress, for Patricia Arquette.

I can’t wait til this whole things draws to a close. I can’t believe I’m saying that I’m tired of Oscar season. But this year I really am.

But I’ll be live-blogging it anyway. As far as I know. Stay tuned.

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Sasha Stone & Jeff Wells Champion Marion Cotillard’s Oscar Chances!

Marion 2Sasha Stone, the beyond brilliant chronicler of all things Oscar, has written ANOTHER one of her most impassioned pieces at http://www.awardsdaily.com called “Are the Oscar Pundits Dropping the Ball on Marion Cotillard?” And of course, yes, they are! But this pundit is not! Dear Readers, Dear Cineastes…The Immigrant 1

Jeff Wells is all het up about it, too, at http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com Jeff writes on and on about Marion’s plight in the positioning her, or the lack of it for two great performances this year, “The Immigrant” and “Two Days, One Night” and right now as Jeff points out “She is HAPPENING!” which is something wonderful to hear about this year’s Oscar race for Best Actress.

I mean, face it. There’s really been almost no heat happening at all. Until now. It’s all just been Julianne Moore’s to lose. And now I love Julianne Moore. Everyone in Hollywood AND Elsewhere does. And she’s never won an Oscar and this year it seemed finally to be HER MOMENT. Until Marion Cotillard started winning like FOUR Best Actress Awards across the country in the past week, and Julianne, well, she came in second to Patricia Arquette in the L.A. Film Critics Best Actress race.

Jeff Wells has started hilariously calling them, the LA Film Critics, “The Lunch-breakers” and he’s going  to make that name stick.

Of course, of course, “Deux Jours, Une Nuit” is a Belgian film in French. But it’s SUPERB! It’s going to be high up on my Year’s Ten Best List that I’m now working on.

Madame Marion already has an Oscar already, for “La Vie En Rose.” But it’s been seven years since that wonderful, historic event happened. No actress had ever WON an Oscar for acting in French. Could she do it again this year for “Deux Jour…”? I know it sound impossible, but if people like Sasha Stone and Jeff Wells keep writing about her chances so excitingly, maybe she will.

Elaine Stritch Passes at 89

Elaine StritchI regret to say that I never got to have the late Elaine Stritch as a guest on my TV program, though I actually did meet her once. And had a little bit of conversation with her. It was in some theatrical eaterie on W.46th St. Joe Allen’s or Orso’s or some place like that.

I was going out and she was coming in and I raved and raved to her about her performance in Edward Albee’s “A Delicate Balance” on Broadway. Her rare foray into a serious role, and she was of course, terrific.  She didn’t care about my blandishments. She waved them off and kept saying “But do you think it’s a good play?” and I said I did and she kept at me “But Is it a GOOD PLAY??”

This exchange got repeated several times, and I don’t think I convinced her of my position and I

wondered why she would be so stuck on that question.

I also of course, saw her onstage, probably more than once in her iconic stage performance of “Company” when she screeched out “The Ladies Who Lunch” with nary a voice at all. But it didn’t matter.

And I saw her “Elaine Stritch:At Liberty” on Broadway which was wonderful, just wonderful, and she was a mere slip of a girl at 79 at the time.

I remember her copping to being a diabetic. In fact, she had to leave the stage at one point, presumably because she had had a diabetic “low” and returned literally moments later with a glass of orange juice in her hand. I could relate.

Jeff Wells at http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com has just penned a lovely tribute to her, and he has her entire “At Liberty” you tube video posted there. I wish I could figure out how to post it here.

Elaine Stritch also famously didn’t have a bigger career because of her drinking, which went on for years and years. And then I guess because of her diabetic condition, she stopped.

She was 89. Perhaps if she hadn’t been such a boozer and for so  long, she would’ve lived longer and had been much, much more famous.

But you could never forget her.

R.I.P. Elaine

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Oscar Afterwards’ ~ Sasha Stone & Jeff Wells Look Forward

Oscar Afterwards' ~ Sasha Stone & Jeff Wells Look Forward

It takes up something like six months of the year. From September when Toronto unfurls the usual winner, and they were right. “12 Years a Slave” was winning the minute it opened and it won the Audience Award there. Til March(this year) when the Awards are given out.

Then it’s time for the Oscar Afterwards period as I’m now calling it. The blah period when everything returns so much to normal, which usually means tons and tons of dreadful movies, that I return to Broadway with a vengeance and a thank god for the theatre.

People ask why I continue to ignore the Tribecca Film Festival, which is right next door, as it were, but I’m a proud Voting Member of the Drama Desk, and so for three months of the year, which is NOW, I turn to the stage.

Others, however, this year are looking ahead, WAAAAY far ahead to the Oscar race 2015. And Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone http://www.awardsdaily.com and Jeff Wells http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com do this very entertainingly as always in a new Oscar podcast I just stumbled upon at Hollywood-Elsewhere.

I’ll summarize. I was surprised to see this as Sasha is usually averse to this sort of thing soooo far in advance. She says and I agree it’s bogus and full of possiblities that turn into pot-holes.And then there’s “How’s the Academy going to react?” She points out that “Who could’ve predicted they would totally turn their back on a great film like “Inside Llewyn Davis?” But Jeff ALWAYS has his Oscar Balloon up all the year long.

But everybody seems to be doing this this year and I can tell you why. Especially if you’re on the Internet as I am and they are, if you don’t talk about the Oscars, your hits drop. The Oscars as opposed to just plain movie-going enjoyment.

I can’t tell you the disparity between the hits I got on Oscar day and for a week or so after. And now…well, as I said, everything’s back to normal.

Spring is coming. And so Jeff’s thoughts, particularly, turn to “What’s Next?” From their whole conversation, which veers off their picks A LOT and onto other(interesting) talking points, the one film that jumped out at me was “Gone Girl.” This is the new David Fincher film based on the best-selling book, which Sasha particularly got excited about.

She certainly intrigued me. Starring in the title role is the beauteous Brit Rosamund Pike. Who I’ve had a guest on my show a couple of years back, and who impressed me as someone who was much more than people took her for when I interviewed her.

And I thought “Why doesn’t someone give this lovely, beautiful woman a role she can really shine in?” And it seems that David Fincher may be just the one to do just that.

Look what he did with Rooney Mara in “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” People criticized him for casting an unknown more or less in the iconic role of Lisbeth Salander, and she ended with an Oscar nomination, though the film was not nominated for Best Picture…

“Gone Girl” may suffer the same fate. I don’t want to give anything away. I really do hate the way Jeff spoils things for people. But Sasha made this film sound so tantalizing, I’ll just say I’m glad I haven’t read the book, because I want to be surprised.

It seems it’s a thriller, and Fincher always does well, very well with that. One of my favorite films of his was “Zodiac” in which Jake Gyllenhaal gave ANOTHER under-rated, but great performance. And no, “Zodiac” wasn’t nominated for an Oscar either.

The Academy gave “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” an Oscar for Film Editing. It was a surprise. It’s like they wanted to give it SOMEthing.

Jeff was initially just dismissing “Gone Girl” saying “There won’t be much underneath it”, and Sasha just jumped all over him, and said “What? Wait a minute! It’s David Fincher!”

I really did like Rosamund Pike when I met her for “Barney’s Version” and could Fincher be the man to tap her untaped potential? Is there an Oscar Nomination in the beautiful Rosamund’s future?

As far as what’s coming up…it looks like another barren tent-pole summer of blockbusters. Not looking forward to that.

When Broadway is offering Bryan Cranston as LBJ in “All the Way” next week and also “Rocky: the Musical” directed by the extremely innovative Alex Timbers, well, I’m happy to be going to them both.

At this time of year as I’m waiting for Broadway to start, I am always glad I made the decision to keep going back to the theater.

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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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Oscar Blogger Articles Hits (Home)

Oscar Blogger Articles Hits

A controversial(perhaps) but more likely simply a must-read article on Oscar Bloggers, of which I am supposedly one, just hit the stands in the new bi-weekly New York Magazine. Jeff Wells is majorly featured in it and goes into great detail over at http://www.hollywood-elsewhere

I consider myself an Oscar blogger. It is just one of the many things I do, like run a weekly television on cable in NYC for over 26 years now. With NO budget whatsoever. I’ve been doing this blog for four years and started “The Stephen Holt Show” as a web-series on You Tube in Oct.2007. AS WELL AS the continuing TV show, and contributing to Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone’s http://www.awardsdaily.com.

But it’s an LA centric article and even though the magazine is called “New York” New York City figures in to it not at all. Anne Thompson is completely left out. And the article focuses mainly on Jeff, Tom O’Neil, Sasha and Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter. Pete Hammond of Deadline is held up as the gold standard.

Tom and Sasha are considered the parents or grandparents of Oscar blogging, which amuses me because though they’ve been doing this for 15 years, my TV show has been for ten years longer.

http://www.goldderby.com is considered a “commerical enterprise” and that they all make in the low six figures. I make in the NO six figures. They all have many ads and I have none. So I guess that makes me unworthy to be included in this supposedly important piece.

Getting 3 to 2,000 hits a day on You Tube during Oscar high season, which is now, obviously, doesn’t count even though it’s on the Internet but it’s another medium, a by-product of television. But I get no ads, so I guess I don’t count. I don’t live or go to LA, so I guess I don’t count. I don’t drive or own a car OR a cellphone. So I guess I don’t count.

But YOU’RE reading me, so I guess I do count. TO YOU. So thank you, my dear readers, dear cineastes…

And I am a Voting Member of the Drama Desk, and also a playwright and a director. But none of this counts in “For Their Consideration.” And Anne Thompson is left out, too. David Poland is mentioned but not much. He was my former boss at http:www.moviecitynews.com
which I once wrote for quite a bit, because Sasha introduced us. And I was a Guru O’Gold for a couple of years, post “Brokeback”. But I’m not now, so I don’t count.

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Woody Allen Fires Back

Woody Allen Fires Back

You just never WHAT turn the Oscar Race is gonna taken and that’s one of the reasons I find it so endlessly fascinating. But this left turn is one that really saddens me. That Cate Blanchett might lose an Oscar for the performance of her career in “Blue Jasmine” is just awful. I don’t think she will, but…you never know…and the godawful confused performance of Amy Adams might win instead in Best Actress for the execrable “romp”i.e.,” American Hustle” is too much to bear or even think about.

This probably isn’t going to happen. The Academy has a history of ignoring alleged bad behavior in favor of great work. And AMPAS, if any body, is made up of a jury of Woody’s peers, if ever there was one. I’m predicting that Cate the Great will still win and that this controversy might even win, in a surprise, and garner Allen yet another Best Orginal Screenplay Oscar. It’s a better screenplay than “Her” OR “American Hustle” now that I think about it.

But Woody came out firing on all guns in the New York Times no less and here’s what he had to say, in full. over at http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com. Jeff Wells’ take is instructive and scroll down to “My Feelings Exactly” to read the entire statement.

Jeff Wells by the way is in Berlin for the Berlin Film Festival and isn’t liking it one bit.

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