a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘King’s Speech’

March Doldrums…Oscars are over. What next? Holland Taylor as Ann Richards

Yes, dear readers, dear cineastes, the Oscars are over til, well, at least Cannes. Which is in May. Not that I’m going. Tres cher as the French say. And since every one else in the blogosphere will be there, one might as well stay put and not endure the French sun(too hot) or the humiliation if you get the wrong colored pass. You see, in Cannes, everything for the Press is determined by what colored press pass you get.

A certain color will let you march right in to the press screening you desire to go to. But if not, you have to line up with all the others who don’t have the right colored pass and wait til the other colors file in past you, taking up all the good seats. Well, sod that, as the Brits say.

Lining up in Toronto is enough of an ordeal in itself. You sometimes have to get there an hour early to get in to what you what to see. I’m remembering back to the “King’s Speech” which was at 8:45 AM, and yes, there was a line. A very long one. But as I got there particularly early, in fact, I was the FIRST ONE IN LINE, I knew I’d get in.

No such guarantee in Cannes…

Meanwhile, what else does one do in New York in March? Well, being a Voting Member of the Drama Desk, I being to start attending Broadway shows once again.

Yes, dear readers, dear cineastes, I foresake the movies for the plays, and last night I did just that starting my theater-going Spring season off right with the imploding powerhouse that is called “Ann.”

It’s a one-woman show about the late, great governor of Texas Ann Richards who was one hell of a gal, a real Texas broad who liked trail-blazing as much as she loved talking trash as well as liberal politics.

And Ann Richards is a great under-known American political figure and being a female Texas governor is no mean feat. And the real Ann Richards did it ALL.

Unfortunately, Holland Taylor, the actress who has the audacity to shoulder her story as a one-woman show at the cavernous Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont, has chosen not only to act alone on a over-sized stage that a musical would be lost on, but also to have written the wobbly book as well. *sigh* It could’ve been great. But it’s only a little less than so-so. The road to theater hell is paved with good intentions. Although “Ann” is more like purgatory.

Taylor, an actress who is now somewhere in her seventh decade, is someone I feel I’ve seen acting since forever. A typical WASP matron type, I remember her being grandly soused in a supporting role in A.R. Gurney’s “The Cocktail Hour,” and she’s been in many, many plays and television shows, and she was always, well, serviceable. Just OK. But not a star, by any means.

I guess she’s most widely known now for “Two and Half Men” and I don’t know who she’s playing on it, but it’s made her well-known and probably cemented her fortune, since she’s been on it since the beginning. Me, I’ve never watched it….And there’s certainly big bucks behind the lavishly produced one woman show that is “Ann”. If only Holland Taylor hadn’t written it herself.

She’s not much of a writer, but here, as an actress, for the first time in her long career, she truly dazzles. Esp. in the long, first introductory section where she is basically directly addressing the audience, as Richards, telling her uber-colorful life story. She really does shine here. And she’s basically quoting sassy, saucy lines that Richards actually said. And in this, she’s quite fine. And funny, too and endearing. You start to love her.

BUT—

She’s so good in this, so much so that when she begins to falter in the second act of the play, and even before that, you feel a sinking frustration that a great theatrical opportunity is being blown here.

“Ann” is just TOOOO long.

The minute Michael Fagin’s stunning set for the Governor’s Office is revealed, then moves forward in space towards Holland/Richards, it’s a dazzlingly theatrical moment, and the first act should’ve end THERE. But no, no. It goes ON and ON for quite sometime where we see Ann As Governor in action, as Ms. Holland takes her seat in the Governor’s chair.

And when she sits down, so does the play. And it never really stands up again. THEN there’s a SECOND act, with basically the SAME territory covered in the Governor’s office setting AGAIN, til I just wish she’d step forward onto the apron, relate directly to the audience and shineshineshine again. Finally she does, and I have to admit I admired Holland Taylor’s pluck, but basically about the time Ann was entering her 7th decade, I felt I had been there just about as long, and was ready for her to ascend into Demoratic heaven. And she does.

Why didn’t she get a PLAYWRIGHT to help her? The EGO of the actress in this regard is overwhelming. And terribly misguided. Or a director to help her shape this unwealdy piece of barnstorming? Benjamin Endsley Klein, whoever HE is, was listed as the director, but it seemed Ms. Taylor was out there flying blind. Oh well. She’s a good enough actress and is having the time of her life bringing the exuberant Ann Richards back to life, to make it worth your while to sit and watch her display herself for two hours. But be warned. You’ll be underwhelmed. But you’ll still like Holland Taylor, but you just wish somebody could’ve said STOP!

An Unexpected Midnight Missive about Melissa-Gate!

I’ve always considered Scott Feinberg a nice, well-meaning young guy. He’s linked to this blog, before anybody else did, which I was very grateful for, so thank you, Scott. It’s started the ball rolling. This is a blog with no advertising, no publicty. It’s just a WordPress blog. Now you’ve helped it grow by leaps and bounds. Again, thank you.

But this REAALLLY upset email you sent me about Melissa-Gate, and all the apparent controversy that has been stirred up about her taking out her own ill-advised Oscar ads…well…I’ve been trying to think what was the nicest way of responding.

She’s a great actress. I’ve said this over and over again. And I would love to work with her some day. But she did something REALLLLY self-destructive and VERY unfortunate, and knowing her slightly and admiring her work tremendously, I just couldn’t believe she did something quite so, well…it’s almost beyond words how much damage she has caused her own frontrunner status. And maybe her entire career as well.

And Scott points out that he did not “admit that she has blown it” as I said in the previous post. He said EXACTLY “she COULD have…” check out the rest of his defense of Melissa in www.scottfeinberg.com

So OK. He didn’t say “she’s blown it”…Scott uses the more carefully worded “could have…”

Well, that statement, coming from Scott in the midst of his defense of her really shocked me. Scott does NOT make Oscar predictions statements like that lightly. So, I WAS BLOWN away, by his admitting this as even a remote possibility.

Melissa should’ve just sat tight and won the Oscar she was on her way to, and THEN spoken out publicly on all the topics she feels she must, and this is so, so, well ill-timed.

This is a BIG Oscar story. It’s overwhelmed “The King’s Speech” v. “The Social Network.” It’s NEWS. It’s hot news. On the Internet anyway. Everybody is talking about it everywhere. It just hasn’t seeped into TV yet…but it very well may. And I hope for Melissa’s sake it doesn’t.

Scott, this is PUBLICITY, which is what you and I deal with on a day-to-day basis. It’s what we do. I’m primarily a celebrity interviewer, as you are, and a Oscarologist since before you were born, but you’re doing much  than more than that now with your blog. I’m also a film and theater critic. So all this “reporting” is new to me. I think of it more as commenting, observation, and Melissa-gate is the biggest Oscar story going right now. It’s overwhelming the rest of this locked down race.

As now that I’ve just STARTED this blog, only in Sept., so I guess now I am a Oscar blogger. But I do not consider myself a journalist. This is a personal blog, about what I see, what I feel. And right now, I truly am upset that Melissa Leo seems to have hurt her Oscar frontrunner status. www.movieline.com does NOT have in the Number One spot on their Oscar graphs anymore because of this and they say so. Who’s in it Hailee Steinfeld!

Melissa Leo, a marvelously talented, well-regarded member of “jobbing actors” which is a good phrase, has now that she’s been nominated for an Oscar TWICE in the past two-three years, is put in the position of being a star. A movie star.

Those ads should’ve been MUCH more glamourous. She was so beautiful when she was young! She was strikingly beautiful, a fiery red-head. She was so photogenic she was a SOAP star, for goodness sakes.

She was on “All My Children” FOR YEARS, which is when I first became aware of her. And she played a “bad girl” as was ALWAYS terrific in that part. And I wondered what had happened to her, and why her talent had not been recognized in the wider world beyond soaps.

Now in her middle years she’s finally getting what it seems she always wanted. “Frozen River” was a GREAT performance, better than “The Fighter” IMHO because she was chewing the scenery a tad too much, for my tastes…but that was the part…

NOBODY understands ageism in Hollywood as well as I do, and have written about older actresses’ situation over and over again. And as a playwright/director and a member of the playwright/director’s unit at the Actor’s Studio, which is where I encountered Melissa again, when I auditioned with an aspirant to be one of the their members. I wasn’t trying to become an ACTING member of the studio. My scene partner was. We did a scene from “A Taste of Honey”. I played the gay character, of course.It was an incredible experience acting on that stage(yes, I’m an actor, too) and auditioning for Melissa. Who is held in the highest of high regard there, as you would expect.

She’s treated with tremendous respect there. Deference. As well she should be. And she seemed VERY at home there in that Method Acting atmosphere. And coming from a New York stage background Hollywood is just not a situation, and the Oscars, especially, is not a situation that she seems comfortable with AT ALL.

I am just honestly bewildered and perplexed that she did something so unfortunate as what she just did and that she was not told or stopped by her management at ICM.  Her manager, Jason Weinberg, her friend film critic Thelma Adams. I was ESPECIALLY surprised to see Thelma turn up in her photo shoot video!

Thelma, of ALL people, who writes for all manner of Show Biz publications, should’ve known the consequences of something like this.

AND I’m asked about Melissa EVERYwhere I go! And people know that I know her, and I am writing about her, to the extent that I have because it’s THE STORY of this year’s Oscars, and I am bewildered and SHOCKED, not by the reaction this has engendered, but WHY an artist of her caliber could’ve damaged something so badly, that did not did not NEED be damaged. At the very least, Melissa did not need publicity LIKE THIS.

I’m posing questions to her in my writing and to her friends and her management, looking for answers. Scott, if YOU are such a good friend of hers, why didn’t YOU stop her? You’re an Oscarologist. You cover the Oscars obsessively, as I do.

I guess the answer is you didn’t know about this. Why didn’t THELMA stop her? Or Jason? OR ICM? I guess because they COULDN’T.

But in the end the Oscars aren’t about merit, if they ever were, they are about HOOPLA. Which is what Melissa is getting now, and tons of it. On the Internet. But it’s not what she bargained for. I’m sure she didn’t expect THIS to happen and that it would be a backlash to the extent that it has. And the story just keeps getting BIGGER.

I just sincerely wish she hadn’t done this. She’s just HANDED Hailee Steinfeld, who doesn’t deserve it, or Helena Bonham-Carter, who does, an Oscar.

Somewhere Hailee Steinfeld is giggling.

Oscar Goddess Switches Her “King’s Speech” picks on Gold Derby!

If I’m counting right, anyone who follows all this Oscar nonsense (like I do) so avidly that they are going from Oscar site to Oscar site trying to take the temperature of the Little Golden Guy, may be a bit surprised to go to www.goldderby.com and see that Tom O’Neil has rounded up a whole passle o’pundits and asked them what they think…NOW…RIGHT NOW. This week. This moment. When MOST Oscar ballots get received and filled out and returned, post-haste.

And frankly, the group is too unwieldy to really get a sense of…unless you’re following one particular pundit, and of course, I’m noting Sasha Stone’s rather startlingly changed Oscar position. A woman definitely had the prerogative of changing her mind, but this is a little confusing.

Oscar goddess Sasha, who I feel knows more than anyone about what’s going on, has gone on Gold Derby from saying at www.awardsdaily.com, her own great site, that “The King’s Speech” is going to take everything in its’ path. And I think that’s right. To now saying to Tom O’Neil Gold Derby that the only Oscars she’s now predicting “The King’s Speech” to win, are THREE! If I’m counting correctly, and I’m slightly dyslexic with numbers…So we’ve gone from 12 to 3 in Sasha’s King Speak. Which would be Best Actor – Colin Firth. Of course, EVERYBODY and EVERY pundit polled predicted him and this has been the case since Toronto…

To just predicting Colin and David Seidler for Best Original Screenplay, to, her only controversial choice, Geoffrey Rush for Best Supporting Actor.

She’s the only one who is predicting him. But of course, I am, too…but Tom didn’t ASK ME!

I think out of loyalty to her season-long advocation of “The Joy of Typing,” she’s switched back to saying it will win Best Picture, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score, as well as Best Director for David Fincher…

I don’t think any of these wins are happening. But yes, to her Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and David Seidler picks, of course.

I think that it’s Tom Hooper and “The King’s Speech” for Best Picture All the Way. And if judging by the FIRST EVER bloggers panel at the Santa Barbara Film Festival, which you can watch at Awardsdaily, and see, at a distance, and very out of focus, from left to right, Jeffrey Wells www.hollywood-elsewhere.com, Scott Feinberg www.scottfeinberg.com , Pete Hammond www.deadlinehollywood.com, Steve Pond www.thewrap.com, Sasha herself, and Anne Thompson www.indiewire.com  being moderated by my frequent guest Peter Rainer of the Christian Science Monitor, who really is a critic and not a blogger.

It was a fascinating moment. This was right after Tom Hooper’s surprise win at the DGA and right BEFORE the SAG awards started, where “The King’s Speech” won – AGAIN.

This bloggers panel is on page two of www.Awardsdaily.com now, but it really is worth checking out.

It’s in Six parts, and there’s nary a close-up, but the sound quality is good, even if the picture is beyond blurry.

But what I was surprised at was how totally “The King’s Speech” dominated the conversation of the panel. They just couldn’t stop talking about it.  I think that means something.

And Sasha, Jeff and Scott Feinberg, were the main proponents of “The Joy of Typing” before the Big Switch happened at the DGA two weeks ago when the whole Oscar race turned upside down to put “The King’s Speech” on top and “Typing” somewhere near the bottom. But at least it was discussed avidly.

“True Grit” and “The Fighter” were barely mentioned. It was like there was no other movies in the race, except TKS and TJOT.

Peter Rainer, turns out, is a big TKS fan. He gave it an “A- minus” he said. I’d give it A++++. I think it’s one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen. And Anne Thompson and Steve Pond were positive about it, too.

Although Steve Pond barely said anything.

So there were two competing teams on this panel. King Team and Team Typing.

And went to Secretarial School. More than once! And I can tell you. There is very little Joy in Typing.

But I digress…

I guess the whole point of this is that “The King’s Speech” seems to have obliterated everything else. And Jeff Wells kept knocking it because “it was a feel good movie.” And return to Old Hollywood values. Among many other things, it is, yes, a World War II movie. It’s certainly Anti-Hitler. And you just LOVE Colin Firth’s great kindly king valiantly getting through the climatic Speech of “The King’s Speech.”

And at one point, a member of the audience asked, referring to who was voting on Best Foreign Film, “Are they elderly?” and Scott Feinberg had to admit that yes, they were. I don’t know how that question landed on him, but he answered it.

But I do think, going back to Sasha’s Gold Derby picks again, that she’s on to something with Geoffrey Rush over Christian Bale.

I do think the Supporting categories are much shakier than generally thought, and Christian Bale, as good as he is in “The Fighter” is not well liked. AND he’s young. He’ll have other chances.

And Geoffrey Rush has won a bunch of precursor awards. And Sasha when said that “The King’s Speech” was going to be “coming back for everything.” Meaning an across the board sweep…thinks that the King’s broom will sweep the King’s Speech Therapist in, too.

I’ve always thought that and said that. And told Geoffrey Rush that himself, when I famously interviewed him and Colin and Geoffrey at the Toronto International Film Festival which is where this blog began, after all.

Sasha also joined forces to predict something else equally startling, to me, Hailee Steinfeld as Best Supporting Actress over Melissa Leo!?! She is joined on Gold Derby by the redoubtable combination of Anne Thompson, Kris Tapley AND David Karger alllll saying the same thing!

And on Movieline, where they have those fabu graphs, THEY’VE got Hailee Steinfeld and Melissa Leo in a TIE!?!

So watch out, Oscarwatchers, and fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be bumpy three weeks

“The King’s Speech” = GWTW Sherman’s March to the Sea

People keep telling me that “The King’s Speech” can’t possibly create a scorched earth, Sherman-Marching-to-the Sea (GWTW reference)… and therefore Hollywood is Georgia…in other words, an unstoppable juggernaut, taking everything in its’ path. Every award in sight. So far in the past two weeks, it has. Meaning that it will win every Oscar that it’s nominated for. All twelve. I think so,and Oscar prognistcator Sasha Stone thinks so, too. www.awardsdaily.com

And who am I to disagree? Sasha is Oscar’s Scarlett O’Hara. The indomitable young woman defending Tara against all comers. Including the Yankees. And this year, the Brits.

I just think”The King’s Speech” has the awards MoJo that no other film has, and the ballots just got mailed yesterday!

And in my experience, voters do NOT wait til the last minute to mail them in.

It’s snail mail, let’s we forget, and most voters mail them IMMEDIATELY, IF NOT SOONER, by return mail, almost.

That means as the ballots arrive in their hot little hands, people are filling them in TODAY, or TOMORROW or THE NEXT DAY at the latest.

So what voters are thinking RIGHT NOW, TODAY, THIS WEEK is what we will see prevaling on Oscar Night, Feb27, a whole 25 days away.

A lot can happen in 25 days…but not THIS WEEK!

And this week has “King’s Speech” written all over it, as it will be written all over their quickly mailed ballots. The PGA, The DGA, and the SAG Ensemble Award wins  and its’ 12 Oscar nominations are all VERY Fresh in the Academy voters’ minds. THIS WEEK.

St. Anne Thompson of www.indiewire.com  has said that “It’s all about the screeners. And which screeners are at the top of the pile.”

And what screener is on top of everyone’s Oscar pile this year?

Answer In Unison. “The King’s Speech.”

And how did it get there?

Ask Harvey Weinstein, who everyone is now calling(but Sasha started it) the Oscar Whisperer.

Harvey is as Oscar obsessed as Sasha and I and YOU(cuz you’re reading this) are. Except he has the added gravitas of being the producer of some of the best movies(and some of my favorite) movies of all time.

How does he do it? Well, simply put, I guess you could say, he makes sure that the Academy members SEE the screener, at the very least. Or see it at a screening, preferably, and he has non-stop screenings around this time of year. He’s always done that.

Also, he’s got this Oscar magic with British films. No British Film has  wonthe Best Picture Oscar in recent memory without Harvey behind it. “Shakespeare in Love,” “The English Patient” both won, and both had Harvey. “Atonement” didn’t. Even with its’ seven nominations it didn’t win Best Picture that year.

And he’s in the scrappy underdog position this year. He’s fighting his way BACK into the Big Time with a (suddenly) sure-fire winner ~ “The King’s Speech.” So he’s got THAT great story going for TKS, too. The COMEBACK. Oscar loves comebacks.

He hasn’t really been away. He got the “Reader” into the Top Five when there was still JUST a Top Five Best Picture choices a two years back and now he’s got the fully-locked and loaded Brit- extravaganza, “The King’s Speech.”

How can he, and it, miss? Sure a lot can happen in three weeks, but not much is gonna happen THIS week. The deed is already done. The board is set. The pieces are moving. As Auntie Mame said, “It’s TODAY!”

Golden Globe Nominations! King’s Speech leads with 7!!!

Very gratified to report that the wonderful “King’s Speech” which I have been championing ever since I saw it at its’ first press screening at Toronto received seven Golden Globe nominations this morning. More than any other film, and that usually means it’s going to win!

It was nominated for Best Film -Drama, Best Actor, the wonderful Colin Firth, Best Supporting Actor, Geoffrey Rush, Best Supporting Actress, Helena Bonham-Carter, Best Director, Tom Hooper(who named me “The Oscar Messenger” after all, LOVE him!), Best Screenplay and Best Score.

Congratulations to Colin, Geoffrey, Helena, Tom and to Harvey Weinstein who produced all this magnificence.

Yesterday that OTHER FILM, whom I will not mention by name any more, won all the critics’ awards across the country, and today, “The King’s Speech” is on top!

Also nominated for Best Actor -Drama was Ryan Gosling, whom I just interviewed for “Blue Valentine.” That is going to be up on YouTube shortly and Best Actress-Drama- Michelle Williams for the same moving film, whom I also interviewed. And she’ll be coming soon, too. www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

Omissions~ They left  out a LOT of possible contenders like Jeff Bridges, and Hailee Stanfield from “True Grit”. In fact, “True Grit” (which I STILL haven’t seen) was shut out completely. And Danny Boyle for Director and “127 Hours” were not nominated, though its’ star James Franco was. Franco was expected. The shut out of “127 Hours” and Boyle were not. Nothing for Robert Duvall in “Get Low.” Nothing for “True Grit” other than the despised Jennifer Lawrence’s expected but undeserved nomination. Will somebody please put a stop to that woman! Her adulation in that faux-Ozarkian indie is incomprehensible to me.

And Leonardo Di Caprio was left out ~ TWICE! For “Shutter Island” AND for “Inception” Yikes! Methinks this was not category confusion but actual, for real, MOVIE confusion. There were astounding similarities in the plots of both movies. And certainly Leo’s characters.  So Leo got left out twice, but Johnny Depp was nominated TWICE for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical. For “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Tourist.” BOTH Annette Bening and Julianne Moore were nominated for “The Kids Are All Right” in the Musical/Comedy Best Actress category.

And sadly “Another Year” was nowhere to be seen. No Mike Leigh. No Leslie Manville. And also no Noomi Rapace for “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.” Sadly.

IN were Jackie Weaver for “Animal Kingdom.”!!! And Mila Kunis, and NOT Barbara Hersey for “The Black Swan.”  I think the Academy will correct that. And switch the two. This is for Best Supporting Actress, and as I predicted BOTH Melissa Leo and Amy Adams got in for “The Fighter” and they will cancel each other out, leaving the way for her Royal Highness Helena Bonham-Carter to win here. And at the Oscars, too, I’m betting.

And Michael Douglas DOES go supporting as Peggy Siegel told me he would, also back in Toronto. For “Wall Street 2” which I enjoyed immensely. And NO Mark Ruffalo for “The Kids Are All Right” though it scored big everywhere else and won him a Best Supporting Actor nod from the New York Film Critics. So Douglas is IN. Ruffalo is now OUT?

After “The King’s Speech”, came “The Fighter” with six nominations, as I predicted. And THAT OThER MOVIE also got six. Best Foreign Film nominations included Tilda Swinton’s “I Am Love.”

These nominations HELP all those nominated, but hurt the ones unexpectedly left out, like “True Grit” and “Another Year.”

For the complete list, see www.awardsdaily.com

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