a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

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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.

Post-TIFF ~ SUDDENLY, So many predictions about “Silver Linings”! But TIFF isn’t the Academy, folks!

TIFF only ended on Sunday, but it’s Oscar after-effects ripple on. The announcement that “Silver Linings Playbook” won the prestigious People’s Choice Award sent Oscar pundits and Oscarologists  (is there any difference?) running for the hills. And ALLLL of them suddenly putting “SLP” in their #1 position, when this was hardly the case way back when, say, on SATURDAY!

The Oscar pick’em race turns on a dime, and it certainly just did. AND NOBODY was predicting Jennifer Lawrence would win Best Actress “out front by a mile” as Tom O’Neill put it in two podcasts ~ one which he did with Sasha Stone and Jeffrey Wells, who barely let him, the Granddaddy of all Oscar prognosticators barely get a word in edgewise! No really! But Tom was very good-humored about it.

He, who did not even get to TIFF this year. Sasha has never been. And of course, Jeff Wells was VERY MUCH there.As you’ll see when my terrific interview with him comes out shortly at http://www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow.

Sasha, of course, is at http://www.awardsdaily.com and Jeffrey holds forth at http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com

Jeff fell, as I did, and fell HARD, for “Anna Karenina”, and he was outraged, just outraged, as I was too, and still am, by Manohla Dargis’s dismissal of “Anna Karenina” as “a travesty,” and she also calls the divine Keira Knightley’s great performance “miscast. ” and what is soooo galling is that this is in the NYTIMES! Jeff was hopping mad about this. APOPLECTIC! and I am, too! So much so he barely let poor SASHA even get a word in on her own podcast!

Conversely, Tom O’Neil and Pete Hammond barely discussed Keira Knightley’s performance or “Anna Karenina” at ALL! THEY were all about Jennifer Lawrence although Pete Hammond cautioned “It’s early yet.” They can be found at http://www.goldderby.com

All I can think of is the year when “Sideways” won the People’s Choice Award at Toronto, too. It got a lot of nominations, but it lost Best Picture. I’m also thinking of George Clooney’s starrer “Up in the Air” and also just this year’s past “The Descendants” both Toronto Hits, though not People’s Choice winners.

They were, however, raved and raved and raved about out of Toronto and all season long, and then…The Air Went Out. Of Both Of Them. Almost like clockwork. And George was certainly being championed as Best Actor, too. And both times, it didn’t happen. Last year, the Little Golden Guy went to Jean Dujardin for “The Artist.” Face it, George, you’re just never going to win Oscar #2.

Interestingly, “The Artist” was also at TIFF(and at Montreal AND at the New York Film Festival) but didn’t win the People’s Choice Award, or even come in second. But of course, it did win the Oscar.

And as Harvey W. would say regarding the Academy Voters “These are the ones that count.” So just because some film has won big in Toronto, doesn’t mean it’s also going to be embraced by the Academy. Oh no. Not by a long shot.

And Jennifer Lawrence? Well, I haven’t yet seen “Silver Lining’s Playbook,” but I’m not a fan. Her flat performance in “X-Men” coupled with her execrable under-acting(non-acting to me) Academy Nominated turn(she barely moved) in “Winter’s Bone” turned me off her in a very big way. I didn’t even bother to go to see “The Hunger Games” because she was starring in it.

Bland, bland, bland. Flat and bland. Curvaceous, attractive by any and all Old Hollywood or even New Hollywood standards, to be sure. She’s pretty. Ok. I’ll give her that. But I have yet to see her be anything other than sub-par. Jennifer, I’m waiting.*sounds of my foot tapping*

But with all these critical hurrahs she’s now receiving, I guess, in the case of “Silver Linings Playbook”, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt. I certainly am looking forward to seeing it and seeing what all this fuss was SUDDENLY about.

I was certainly tracking the Best Actress contenders in earnest at Toronto. I got up at 5:30 AM to make a 8:45am screening of Marion Cotillard in “Rust and Bone” and the  otherworldly, magnifique Marion did not disappoint my Best Efforts.. Neither did the lovely,understated, shy mouse of Laura Linney in “Hyde Park on the Hudson”, or Helen Hunt, the VERY naked and full frontal sex surrogate  in “The Sessions,” the sublime,tormented  Keira Knightley as “Anna Karenina,” and last but not least, Dame Maggie Smith’s all out Oscar-bait turn as an aging Opera Diva in “Quartet.”

Not ONE person in Toronto. NOT ONE, mentioned to me I should see Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook’! NOT ONE! And I was listening…In fact nobody recommended “Silver Linings Playbook” to me at all. NO BODY! And then, BAM, out of nowhere this award! And then all these predictions! On Saturday…nobody was predicting her.

As Laura Linney said to me about all this Oscar madness “I take them with a grain of salt. You have to.”

I think all of this took the Weinstein Co. by surprise, too. During TIFF the #1 film was “The Master” Remember “The Master”? THAT’S what they were pushing, NOT “Silver Linings Playbook.” Now “The Master” is a SUDDEN #3, behind “SLP” and “Argo.”

And on the other side of the gender divide ~Is it Joaquim Phoenix in “The Master” or is it Daniel Day Lewis in “Lincoln”, or is it the much more sympathetic John Hawkes in “The Sessions”? I think the jury is really out on that category and you all KNOW how the Academy relates to Comedies, which the “Silver Linings Playbook” seems to be.

I’ll let you know MY take on all this as soon as I see the remaining films. You can’t write the story of 2012 when Oscar seekers like “Les Miserables”, “Lincoln”, “Zero Dark Thirty””Django Unchained” and “The Hobbit” are all still unseen.

In that case, the person I feel most in agreement with is Pete Hammond of http://www.deadline.com !

It’s not over until the Fat Lady(or in the case of Dame Maggie Smith in “Quartet”) the Thin Lady Sings!

Can You Can Cannes? Some do. Some don’t.

As Cannes 2012 departs, it’s reverberations nevertheless will be felt throughout the Oscar season to come.

Pete Hammond of http://www.deadlinehollywood.com chimes in that he LIKED “Lawless” the Weinstein Australian gangster movie starring Shia LeBouef. Whereas Manohla Dargis of the New York Times  just dismissed it out right.

Jeffrey Wells was left with a WTF? reaction to the awards at http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com and is taking three days off to recuperate.

Todd McCarthy, now at the Hollywood Reporter, felt the awards went where they should’ve gone, as did Dargis at the Times.

Hammond unearths a little known Cannes factoid that the two unknown Roumanian actresses, who are now unknown no longer, since they shared the Best Actress prize for Christian Mongiu’s lesbian nun story “Beyond the Hills” , were found by their director ON THE INTERNET! Now that should be uplifting news to a lot of aspiring actresses out there, that the Internet is now a career path.

Did they have websites I wonder? Just WHAT were they doing when Mongiu spotted them?

Another little know fact. If a film wins the Palme d’Or, the French equivalent of Best Picture, it can NOT win another major award, like for instance, say Best Actor or Actress.

And with the across-the-board acclaim of Michael Haneke’s “Amour” and the praise being heaped on 80-something stars Jean-Louis Trintingant and Emmanuelle Riva, they are both likely Oscar contenders for nominations, not wins. But who knows? I still think this film will not be nominated by the French, and the Austrians or Germans are unlikely to support a film that is in the French language.

Sony Pictures Classics already has this on the awards track. “Amour” is a must-see, no matter which way you slice it.

And Marion Cotillard’s “Of Rust and Bone” is being mentioned by all who have seen it as also a very likely Oscar contender for another nomination for Maid Marion. Having just won rather recently for “La Vie En Rose” acting in her own language, French, I wonder if that lightning would strike TWICE for her in another French film. The win, I mean, not the nomination. The nomination for Mlle. Cotillard seems almost a done deal and the only one that is emerging from Cannes.

Although there is also that American film, that opened Sundance “Beasts of the Southern Wild” which also won a major prize, for a first feature film, and is also a film that Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone of http://www.awardsdaily.com kept commenting on in her famous Cannes’  podcast luncheon with Jeffrey Wells. Sasha thinks, especially with Fox Searchlight having picked it up, that they are going to  ride this one all the way to a Best Picture nomination. The directors first name is Behn. Others would spell it “Ben” and he’s only 23. But this is the film, about a 6-year-old girl trying to cope with the after-effects of Hurricane Katrina, that has captivated not only the Sundance scenesters, but also the French, so it’s broadly popular.

And Sasha thinks the young girl in it could likely be the youngest person ever nominated for an Oscar. She’s THAT good evidently. And her name is unpronounceable and well as un-spell-able, so I’m going to look it up and include it later.

No American films seem to have hit at Cannes, but this one has. And with Fox Searchlight behind it. They are gonna “Tree of Life” it all the way to the Dolby. Which is the new name of the Kodak.

But other than “Beasts” no other American film has gotten much, if any traction. Then comes the big Summer Pause in the awards world, where all the summer blockbusters roll out and we don’t really see much of anything until Toronto. Which I will be attending for the 14th year! Can’t wait! But first comes Provincetown in a couple of weeks. And they always have such smart films there…

Oscar’s Thanksgiving Wishes for Michelle’s Marilyn Pour In!

A Happy, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, my dear readers, dear cineastes! And on this Thanksgiving Day I have one great big movie movie to be Thankful for, which is, you guessed it, you who have been reading this humble blog since Day One, it’s Michelle Williams and all the rest of the wonderful cast in the Best Film of the Year, “My Week with Marilyn.”

Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone has compiled a list of wonderful rave reviews from the likes of Rex Reed to David Denby of the “New Yorker” to Roger Ebert. You can read them all at www.awardsdaily.com

Add to them Stephanie Zacharek at www.movieline.com as well as Oscar, the Grouch Jeff Wells at www.hollywood-elsewhere.com and yes, by George it’s a consensus! Jeff saved his review until today. Wild. But I’m happy it’s at last there.

Only it’s not a race between Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady” and Michelle’s Marilyn.

I don’t think Meryl stands a ghost of a chance with the Academy. She will no doubt get a 17th Oscar nomination, which is PHENOMENAL, record-breaking and an award in itself. I don’t think the Academy will ever give her a third Oscar. She already has two.

And yes, they were earned at the beginning of her career a LONNNNNG time ago. And I really doubt that her Margaret Thatcher turn(I haven’t seen it yet. But soon, I hope) will melt the Academy’s icy heart.

Why? Well, she’s got, well, too much. She’s rich. She’s happily married for over 20 years or more actually. She has four happy and healthy children, two of them, Mamie and Grace are also actresses, and her son Hank is a musician.

No discernible tragedy in her life. Just success, success, success and more money.

Oscar? Well, lately his eye has been on the young’uns in the Best Actress category. Last year’s match between Natalie Portman in “Black Swan” and Annette Bening in “The Kid’s Are All Right” I think is going to be indicative of what happens again this year. The young, cute, NAKED girl wins! And Michelle is pretty nude, pretty often in “Marilyn.” It’s a very sexy performance.

One that turns on every male who sees it and many of the women, too. Like Zacharek and also Claudia Puig in USA Today. And on and on…Not however Manola Dargis in the NYTimes…

If the Nominees turn out to be Meryl, Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs”, Williams, Tilda Swinton(or Charlize Theron) both of whom have Oscars already, and Viola Davis….I see only Viola Davis as perhaps Williams’ competition. For “The Help”.

But with stellar, glittering reviews like Michelle is getting most of the time…I don’t think she can be beat.

Harvey Weinstein HIMSELF is even doing a Satellite Interview Tour – ON BEHALF OF “MARILYN”. This is unprecedented! And I’m guessing he’s going the whole nine yards on behalf of this beautiful, sexy, lovely, funny, moving movie movie because he thinks it has a shot at a Best Picture nomination, too. As well as the obvious nominations of Michelle and Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence Olivier.

And I think he’s right.

TIFF ’11 Begins! And the Oscar Race is ON!

Just a quick HALLO from Toronto! Yes! I’m at TIFF 11 my 13th consecutive year here and I always have the time of my life at the Toronto International Film Festival.  You just NEVER know what magic can happen here! And it always does in one way or the other.

VERY hard to top getting Colin Firth and Tom Hooper BANG right out of the box for “The King’s Speech” ON THE VERY FIRST DAY last year! And then having Tom Hooper naming me “The Oscar Messenger!” Hard to surpass that…but there’s lots of buzz on the ground level, particularly surrounding the great Glenn Close for her performances AS A MAN in “Albert Nobbs”! Yes! And as improbable as that sounds, people who have already seen it have responded very enthusiastically. And don’t forget that Hilary Swank WON the first of her two Oscars for playing a cross-dressing man in “Boys Don’t Cry.” Which also started its’ Oscar career here in Toronto, and THAT was deemed REALLY improbable. I’m seeing it “Albert Nobbs” shortly.

I interviewed Glenn, and I’m not making this up, about her WIGS when she was on Broadway a while back(Seems like a lifetime  ago) for the New York Times’ Arts and Leisure section. Yes, I did! I was in Beauty School at the time. YES! I was! And I liked her tremendously. So here we are once again on a collision course. With me do to interview her in New York closer to the opening of the film around Thanksgiving. Just so it’s FRESH in Oscar voters movie-filled mine.

“Albert Nobbs” is set in Ireland, so here, in English Canada, which is Ontario, which is where Toronto is, it’s BOUND to have a good, strong reaction.

Check out Oscar Goddess’ Sasha Stones great posts from Telluride’s Film Festival! She saw it there and loved it. And BOY did she love Telluride and wrote very strongly and movingly about it. http://www.awardsdaily.com  She went there with Jeff Well’s who blogs his brains out on a daily basis at http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com

So that’s TWO views on Telluride that actually differ wildly on the films they both saw.

Another film that was there, and also in Montreal, and is now here, too is the fantabulous French film “The Artist” which I wrote about at awards daily . It’s the B&W silent movie that I think the Academy is going to fall madly in love with.

It’s ABOUT them. Hollywood in  ’20s.

And I’m looking forward to talking about a things Oscar with Anthony Del Col of http://www.killshakespeare.com

Yes, he’s going to be on my show and on my You Tube Channel, too. And of course, you can see MUCH MORE of the Montreal Film Festival at http://www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

Skies are gray today in TO. But nothing like the wild rain predicted. Not even drizzling. Ooops! Just looked out the window! Yes, it IS raining! Torrential downpour in NYC as I flew out of Newark. THAT was scary! BUT I’M HERE! And TIFF ’11 begins! I always feel like it’s a miracle!

Yes, I do. But it’s real!

My Provincetown Film Fest Wrap-Up Now up on Awardsdaily.com!

Dear Cineastes, dear readers, it can now be revealed! I was away at the wonderful Provincetown International Film Festival 2010! And you can read all about it on www.awardsdaily.com  “Is Oscar Listening?” Awardsdaily – best website on the web! IF you like Oscar 365 days a year, 24/7! And I do! And you do, too, or you wouldn’t be reading this blog, right?

I have this feeling that Leslie Manville is going to win all the Critics’ Awards for Best Actress..

Call me psychic. Call me “The Oscar Messenger” but by all means CALL ME!

No, but seriously dear readers, dear cineastes, dear Awards-obsessives, I do have this feeling that taking their cue from the National Board of Review this week that all the major Film Critics associations. Of which I’m only seriously counting TWO. Or there’s only TWO that seriously count, the New York Film Critics and the L.A. Film Critics groups, who are voting this coming week end I think. They don’t nominate. They just announce. Like the National Board of Review…And I think they are all going to think that the brilliant, unknown, but incredibly deserving Leslie Manville of “Another Year” is going to be who they both pick.

This also may be in reaction to her LOSING the BIFA(British Independent Film Critics Award) where she was nominated in Supporting to Helena Bonham-Carter. For “The King’s Speech”. Maybe this is what Michael Barker of Sony Pictures Classics was thinking all the time. That AT LEAST if she gets a lead actress nomination, that’s a distinction that will always be with her.

Leslie Manville…who? I know, I know. She’s nearly as obscure as Jackie Weaver. So I should at least take the time to explain that Manville, 50, is the mad Mary character in Mike Leigh’s BEAUTIFUL “Another Year.” I loved this film and saw it at Toronto and wrote about it, here, in this blog, at the time.  So search back to September and you’ll find it.

Leslie has been the Mike Leigh stalwart for 12 films. That’s nearly all of them. And the Academy ALWAYS watchs a Mike Leigh screener, and they’re especially going to love the bittersweet mid-life crisis joys and sorrows of “Another Year.” And Manville’s Mary is hovering between lead and supporting. And she just won lead actress at the NBR, but lost at the BIFA, in her OWN country! So that can be put down to category confusion.

Something that the NYFCC and the LAFC are going to feel bound and determined to correct.

We’ll see soon enough as the awards and nominations start flying at us like frisbees in the coming weeks.

If you REALLY want to get a taste of Leslie’s loveliness Paula Schwartz, the Baugette of the Carpetbagger Oscar Column at the New York Times www.nytimes.com

wrote an equally lovely “Introduction to Leslie” kind-of-piece. The Carpetbagger is the Times answer to all us Oscar Bloggers. Now they have their own, too.

Mylena Rysik and Paula are the main Carpetbaggers this season. I hope that link works!

Nope. It doesn’t.:( I’m STILL so tech-tarded, I can’t believe it!

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