a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone’

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It’s Spring & Jeff Welles is in Paris, heading to Cannes

It's Spring & Jeff Welles is in Paris, heading to Cannes

It’s finally Spring in New York, and Jeff Welles? Well, our intrepid movie-mad traveling friend is ALREADY in Paris heading shortly to Cannes.

You can read about it at http://www.hollywood~elsewhere.com

Jeff says it’s FREEZING in Paris aujourd’hui and he’s taken some neat videos and shots of the neighborhood where he’s staying. He took the neat photo above ^. He’s in an Airb&b which he highly recommends.

Our other intrepid Cannes-ian correspondent/friend the great Sasha Stone is headed there any minute now, too. Keep your eyes on http://www.Awardsdaily.com for Sasha’s always delightful postings from Cannes.

Last year it rained all the time. And Jeff says it’s so cold in Paris, he almost had to buy an overcoat!!! He bought a scarf instead!

However,, the weather in New York today is sunny and just gorgeous and I can’t wait to get out in it!

Going to see “After Midnight” tonight, for the SECOND time on Broadway. Loved it the first time. I’m sure I’ll love it even more this time. Vanessa Williams has replaced Fanatasia in the role of the lead singer, but the gigantic, all African-American, all-singing, all-dancing cast is the same, and I’m sure is better than ever…

Haven’t been to Cannes since the ’80s….but that’s another story….

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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 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.

“12 Years a Slave” & “Gravity” historic TIE at PGA!!!

Sh Christmas

In an historic moment, “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave” TIED for Best Picture at the PGA moments ago! It’s being held in LA and is not televised, but thanks to the ever-wonderful Sasha Stone, at http://www.Awardsdaily.com we all got the news like a bolt of lightning, striking down from the skies!

NEVER BEFORE have films directed by a Hispanic and a Black man, Alphonso Cuaron and Steve McQueen ever had films that won Best Picture at the PGA, the Producer’s Guild, considered the most important of Oscar bellwethers. Or is it this year, we’ve got TWO WINNERS?!?!?

This effectively knocks “American Hustle” out of the picture race and into a cocked hat, which is where it should be. Kicked to the curb with the rest of the garbage.

But I can say that “Gravity” is an astounding technical achievement. Best use of 3-D EVAH! But “12 Years a Slave” is a masterpiece of classic story telling. And the next big awards avalanche comes at BAFTA, where “12 Years a Slave” will sweep, the leading talents being all Brits director Steve McQueen, and leading actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, as well as Irishman Michael Fassbender in Supporting and Kenyan beauty Lupita Nyong’o, who has been winning right along this past weekend.

This is incredible news for Fox Searchlight and  “12 Years a Slave”. Even if it ties on Oscar night, it still wins!

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oscar Ballots Go Out~ So where are we now?

The 2013 Oscar ballots went out in the mail and became available online yesterday. So RIGHT AT THIS EXACT MOMENT, they provide a snapshot, if you will, of the Academy’s deepest(or most superficial) feelings.

That a silly little film like “American Hustle” could be at the top of everyone’s minds right now is really irksome to me. But I would be re-miss if I didn’t say that I think that’s the case. That’s awful, but I think that’s what’s really happening.

“12 Years a Slave”, the masterpiece that’s out there, that I’ve seen THREE times now, is on everyone’s minds, too. I just hope they (the Academy) are watching it. And appreciating it the way I and Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone do. Check out her latest readings of the Oscar tea leaves at http://www.Awardsdaily.com. It’s horrid that this maybe happening, but I’m protecting myself from getting another “Brokeback” heart on Oscar night, by getting ready for the worst.

The water cooler movie that everyone is talking about right now is “Wolf of Wall Street,” but I don’t think the Academy is going to dig it. I don’t think either M. Scorsese or Leonardo DiCaprio and especially Jonah Hill are going to get nominated for what is in essence a three-hour orgy supporting and glamorizing what it purports to condemn. Which is the excessive greed on Wall St.in the 1980s and early ’90s. They could’ve called it “Crack Hoes on Parade,” but then they would be admitting it to be the porn film it almost is.

I think Cate Blanchett is sitting pretty, VERY pretty and very high up in everyone’s esteem right now, to get her Second Oscar for her unforgettable turn as a socialite in free-fall in “Blue Jasmine.” Actually, “Blue Jasmine” is also about what “The Wolf of Wall Street” is about economics crashing and burning, but “Blue Jasmine” and Woody Allen who wrote it, SHOW you the downside and what the victims of this powerful abuse of  money, one of whom is Jasmine herself, suffered.

Allen pointedly depicts the people who got hurt, as WOWS never does. Those who invested their money and lost everything by trusting Jasmine and her Bernie Madoff-esque husband (Alec Baldwin in one of the best performances of his career)

One after other after the other, the visible victims  unload on the now pathetic Jasmine, whose son won’t even speak to her. The most memorable scene being between her and her brother-in-law(Andrew Dice Clay) who lets her know just exactly how many lives she and her husband have ruined.

It’s devastating.

Woody Allen got it right. Which may be why you might find him turning up nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. And don’t be surprised if Blanchett’s centrifugal force pulls her sunny sister Sally Hawkins into the Supporting Actress category, too. Hawkins is wonderful as the only person left on earth who is on Jasmine’s side.

And don’t be shocked if Robert Redford is going to find out that REALLY All IS Lost when he or his film doesn’t end up anywhere on Nomination Morning, Tuesday, Jan. 14. He was not nominated for a SAG Best Actor award and NOBODY has ever won Best Actor without a SAG nomination. NOBODY.

And we all know that Oscar stalwart Harvey Weinstein is campaigning heavily behind the scenes for all FOUR of his Oscar hopefuls, “Philomena”, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and ” August: Osage County.” And finally, “Long Walk to Freedom.”

He could be making sure that  AT LEAST ONE of his Best Actors candidates, Forest Whitaker, the Butler himself or Idris Elba(Nelson Mandella)could take the slot that Redford was supposed to.

I think Tom Hanks is also in danger of splitting his vote. He’s got “Saving Mr. Banks” in Supporting as Walt Disney and also he’s got his leading performance of “Captain Phillips.” His Disney so far has garnered no precursor awards. And “Banks” seems to be stumbling everywhere except for leading lady Emma Thompson who seems destined to get a Best Actress nomination for her prickly pair of a performance as “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers.

If I had to pick one, I’d say his “Captain Phillips” turn is the more likely of the two.

And now to Harvey and his other “fillies” as Tom O’Neil http://www.goldderby.com would dub them. Meryl Streep just got the worst reviews of her career for “August:Osage County” and they all came out YESTERDAY, and the NYTimes’ A.O.Scott was particularly,unusually brutal. But I agreed with him.

Julia Roberts in Supporting(at the moment) is getting universally better reviews that Streep, if you can believe it. Streep described it in a Q&A this week in Hwood as “Streep Fatigue”. And she herself even admitted that the Academy’s Actors Branch might be suffering from that. It looked as though she was too. It seems like she doesn’t like the role of Violet she was playing, quite frankly. So why did she do it???

So who takes her place? Julia Roberts? Or is it Amy Adams who has been nominated FOUR times in Supporting in the past eight years, but never won. This would be part of the “American Hustle” effect. Which could also see Christian Bale pop up in Best Actor and Bradley Cooper in Supporting. Don’t gasp. It could happen.

Though Adams is the LEAST effective performance in “AH.” Weak is the word. She’s just not believable as the Whore of Babylon. Opposite Jennifer Lawrence, who certainly IS playing that part. But as a housewife in Queens. Or is it New Jersey? And Lawrence will FOR SURE get nominated.

How much do people like this already over-awarded very minor comedy?

I’m unfortunately guessing a lot right now. And Bale, Cooper and ugh, even Adams could get pulled along by “AH”s coat-tail effect. I HATE to even type this. But all four of them have been nominated for a Golden Globe, but in the Musical/Comedy category. Or rather Bale and Adams have for their leading performances.

It could happen.

And what of the wonderful actors of “12 Years a Slave”? I think they all will be nominated. Chiwetel Ejiofor in lead, and Michael Fassbender in Supporting Actor and Lupita Nyong’O in Supp. actress. They all could win, too.

Out of the three Nyong’O has the least competition in her category. And there’s a healthy history of Black Actresses winning in Supporting. And the part! I mean, her character “Queen of the Fields” Patsie gets raped, whipped, and a glass decanter is thrown in her face. She wants Solomon Northrup to kill her. She even offers him money to drown her….From the part ALONE, I would think this is Lupita’s to lose. How can anyone else compare? And this is ALL TRUE!!! Patsie was a real slave who actually lived, too.

And there’s thoughts being floated that “12 Years a Slave” might not win Best Picture, losing to either “American Hustle” or “Gravity.” But that Chiwetel Ejiofor will win Best Actor. I certainly hope they all do. And that Right, and a masterpiece, will triumph.

And as for the landslide of precursor awards that is consuming Jared Leto for his portrayal of a sweet transvestite named Rayon in “Dallas Buyer’s Club”…well, the Academy has been historically quirky about awarding cross-dressing performances, though Hilary Swank in “Boys Don’t Cry” and William Hurt in “Kiss of the Spider Woman” would belie that rule. Maybe the ground has been broken, but I do feel Michael Fassbender’s horrifying villain of a slave owner Master Epps is the greater performance.

You can’t just put on a dress and expect them to give you an Oscar. Just ask Jaye What-his-came from “The Crying Game.”

Racist NY Film Critics Ignore “12 Years a Slave” Well, almost

Black director Steve McQueen won Best Director from the New York Film Critics, but otherwise “12 Years a Slave” a masterpiece IMHO was ignored by the NYFCC, the Gotham Awards and the National Board of Review. It’s official. There’s a “12 Years a Slave” racist backlash in full swing. And it makes me very angry.

The beneficiaries of this most racist slate of awards voting I’ve ever seen in my adult life of covering entertainment are strangely( but good for them), Ryan Coogler and the actors of “Fruitvale Station”. “Fruitvale Station” is goodness knows about racism and its tragic effects and I’m the first one to cheer for Octavia Spenser, Melonie Diaz and Michael B.Jordan. Coogler scored with all three critics groups, much to his astonishment as I described in the previous post.

If you were handicapping the Oscars (Like Tom O’Neil does on http://www.goldderby.com), you’d have to take note that young Coogler has scored ACROSS THE BOARD.

And the lacerating “12 Years a Slave” did not. “12 Years a Slave” has the disadvantage of being the early front-runner, which as Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone says historically is the worst place any deserving film can be. http://www.awardsdaily.com And unfortunately, she’s absolutely right. A pushback, a take-down seemed impossible. But three days of dealing with this VERY bad news for “12YAS” it now seems inevitable.

So word got out that “12 Years a Slave” was a difficult sit. It’s challenging, frightening, electrifying and horribly historically accurate. Which is what makes it great. And I’m ashamed that these cowardly critics turned their faces away from the reality of slavery depicted in this majestic movie. Sasha had a feeling this was going to happen, but I thought if it happened at all it would be in insular L.A. not knowledgeable New York. DISGRACE!

Steve McQueen getting Best Director from the NYFCC is to be applauded of course, but it almost seems like a boobie prize when Best Actor goes to Robert Redford for “All’s in the Wash” And the brilliant, painful performance of Chiwetel Ejiafor is left out!?!? REALLY, New York Film Critics!?!? REALLLLLY?!?!?

And the searing supporting performance of Lupita Nyong’o is ignored by them in favor JENNIFER LAWRENCE?!?!? This is for “American Hustle” the David O. Russell film which I haven’t seen yet. I’m sure she’s fine. But REALLY, New York Film Critics?!?!? Really?!?! For SHAME!!!! A BIMBO over an abused slave?!?!? And to ad insult to injury, they named “American Hustle” best picture!?!??!?

And while Jeff Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere has a source that says voting for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress were THAT CLOSE. I mean, Michael Fassbender’s choice to go film in New Zealand and ignore the whole thing seems a wise one.

I thought we lived in an enlightened age. But I guess not, Chiwetel and Lupita losing to TWO BLONDS?!? Robert Redford and Jennifer Lawrence is just unconscionable.

I protest!

Gotham Awards ~ Fruitvale Station wins Big, but NOTHING for “12 Years a Slave”!?!

I went to the Gotham Awards totally thinking that my fave, and critical darling, “12 Years a Slave” was going to win big tonight, but it got NOthing! NOTHING! However, 2013 continues to be a big year for African-Americans and the films they’ve made. “Fruitvale Station” got the most accolades with two wins. Nothing got more than that.

Ryan Coogler won the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award for “Fruitvale Station” and I got to chat with him a bit afterwards in the delightfully less crowded than usual Press/Green Room, far removed from the noisy fray of the banquet hall below at swank Cipriani’s on Wall St.. Where jammed packed Indie stars and industry types kept talking to each other and not listening to the speakers who kept trying to make them pay attention to THEM. Evidently a losing battle.

However in the Press Room, everyone seemed totally absorbed with what all were saying, and I still feel that out of everybody I talked to tonight, Ryan Coogler, the brilliant young African-American director of “Fruitvale” is the only person who may surprise at the Oscar nominations next month in a category that last year was spread among eight.

If you want to parse it more exactly Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone does it more expertly than I at http://www.awardsdaily.com.

The Director’s Branch of academy is not going to know what the formerly influential DGA (Directors Guild of America) is going to choose before it votes on the directors. Or vice versa. Sasha will explain it.

I tried to explain it to Ryan Coogler and he was dumbfounded at the news. And I had to explain to him, that I, the Oscar Messenger was telling Behn Zeitlin, the exact same thing  last year at the Gothams, standing in the exact same spot in the exact same room that we were both now in, that he was going to get an Oscar nomination, and he didn’t believe me either. And look what happened! I was right! Zeitlin DID get nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director for “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” In fact, he won the exact same award as Coogler. And in fact, “Beasts” also won two Gotham Awards last year.

Coogler said he just flat-out couldn’t believe me. “It’s all on my cast, man, and Forest.” Forest Whitaker produced “Frutivale Station,” and was also an honoree tonight.

And Coogler said, “Man, haven’t we met before? I know you.” And I demurred saying that “No. It’s the first time, but I loved your movie.” and that “Melonie(Diaz) was on my show.”

The other award “Fruitvale” won was for Michael B. Jordan for Best Breakthrough Actor. 

He was pounced on my all the media in the press room, and since I feel he ISN’T going to repeat this win at the Oscars(or even get a nomination. Best Actor is soooo jammed this year.) I didn’t press my luck with the surging hoards.

Nor did I try to talk to Brie Larson who surprised all in the room by winning Best Actress for “Short Term 12.” She smartly said as she began at the mike, “This is the only acceptance speech I am going to be making this year.” And she’s right. She hasn’t got a shot of cracking the very tightly locked Famous Five, all former winners, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Dame Judi Dench, Sandra Bullock and Emma Thompson.

Again there was a surge towards her in the press room, and I just thought, “She’s not being nominated” So it wasn’t worth the chance of being trampled in the rush. But I did hear her above the muted din, I did hear her stress how genuinely surprised she was. She looked very, very pale, like a woman in shock should look.

A very funny moment occurred when Jared Leto (who probably IS going to be nominated for Best Supporting Actor for “Dallas Buyers Club”) accepted the award for Best Actor on behalf of Matthew McConaughey, who wasn’t there. Leto held his cell phone up to the micro-phone and tried to get the audience to hear what Matthew was saying. He opened with “Alright! Alright! Alright!” in an accented twang, and ended with saying “Matthew says ‘I Love New York!”

And last but not least, “Inside Llewyn Davis” surprised by winning Best Picture(!?!) And Llewyn himself said he was so happy and honored to be accepting this award for the Coen Brothers(who weren’t there), and to be in a “New York film about New York with New York actors.” That speech got the biggest round of applause, I think. Him, I made a bee-line for in the Press Room, and talked about how I had met him at Juilliard many years ago. And we were supposed to do a satellite interview tomorrow, but stay tuned Stephen Holt Show fans, it’s being rescheduled for next week.

To sum up, I think this will help McConaughey keep his spot in the deadly Best Actor debacle which seemed tightly locked between himself, Chiwetal Ejiafor, Robert Redford, Tom Hanks and Bruce Dern, until this weekend when everyone who saw the advance guild and press screenings of “Wolf of Wall Street” went batshit crazy over Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance.

So I have to give a concluding shout out to my three friends and former guests on my show, who I had the pleasure of sitting through this whole shebang with. Brian Brooks, Nigel Smith and Peter Knegt. All from http://www.Indiewire.com  ,although Brian has now moved on to http://www.deadline.com

And I asked  the Oscar-wise Peter who he thought was going to get bumped by Leo out of the Best Actor five and he said, “It’s either Redford or Hanks.” And I think he’s right.

The Gothams, the Awards from Independent Films FOR Independent Films, really went truly indie tonight by giving awards to people and films that are going to be swamped by “12 Years A Slave” come tomorrow when the Critics Groups start announcing. Let the Hunger Games Begin!

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.

Oscars! “Argo” wins Best Picture, Jennifer Lawrence wins Best Actress & falls down!

I really enjoyed this year’s Oscars. I ADORED Seth MacFarlane as the host and hope he’ll be back for more! He was funny, and insulting, but not tooooo insulting. Since when did it become a pre-requisite for all Oscar hosts to act like Ricky Gervais?
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This above ^ introductory paragraph was written before the anti-Seth MacFarlane outcry began today and before MacFarlane himself nixed the idea on Twitter.

I must tell you dear cineastes, dear readers, that I am late in responding to the Oscars because a) I was at a wonderful Oscar party with friends on Sunday and b) on Monday I had to start physical therapy for a back and neck injury and it knocked me sideways. But I was feeling, and walking, much better today. I felt a real spring in my step. Was it the Oscars? I think so. Also, Spring is coming. Right? Isn’t it?

But I’m back up tonight and shocked, SHOCKED by everyone in the media world dumping on the stupendous Seth. He can sing. He can dance. He’s got a dazzling kind of Donny Osmond-like charisma, that he undercuts totally with his wicked sense of humor. And I guess it was just too wicked for some. But he’s got a big career ahead of him whether he ever hosts the Oscars again, but since the ratings were WAY UP, he just might be back. He said “Tina and Amy will be doing this next year.” But I wonder…

Everyone at my party enjoyed it and so I am saddened that there was all this back-lash. Seth, I love you! And I thought you did a magnificent, hysterical job!

Quick-witted Seth sort of sank himself at the beginning of the show by doing 17 minutes with the barely endurable William Shatner, who was “beamed in” on a screen above the stage, in all his Star-Trek paraphernalia, and proved just why HE was never a movie star himself.

I know he’s from Montreal, but he was flat-out boring in that flat-lining opening gambit. And it went on far too long, ending, however, in the hilarious set-up of the Gay Men’s Chorus of L.A. singing “We Saw Your Boobs,” which is a number that will go down in Oscar history as love it or hate it, but me, I thought it was the essence of great comedy.

Not unlike his screamingly funny, and money-making film “Ted.” The potty-mouthed Teddy Bear, who MacFarlane voiced in the hit movie, also made an appearance with Mark Wahlberg to announce the Best Sound Categories. Which was an unprecedented tie for Sound Editing between “Zero Dark Thirty” (the only award it got) and “Skyfall” which also got Best Song for Adele.

The hue and cry against MacFarlane has all but dwarfed the actual awards and movies themselves as Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone points out at http://www.awardsdaily.com , but I’m happy to say that “Argo” won three. and Ben Affleck had his great moment in the sun, winning as a producer of the hit film, along with fellow producers,Grant Heslov, who hogged the microphone, and George Clooney, who stood by totally silent, and in a beard, clutching his hard-earned second Oscar like it was pure gold. Which it sort of is. But only gold-plated, really.But his firm grip was noticeable. I thought he was gonna break it in two. But then remember just last year, when he lost out on Best Actor to Jean DuJardin for “The Artist.”

Affleck was incredibly moving as he told everyone everywhere in the world to “never give up.” I took that very much to heart. He also said “Never hold grudges” in Hollywood. And to “always get back up when the world knocks you down.” Words of wisdom all…

“Argo” won Best Adapted Screenplay which I correctly predicted and also Best Editing for William Goldenberger, which I predicted, too. It lost out on Best Score. I thought they would acknowledge Alexandre Desplat, subtle, Middle-Eastern flavored work, but no, they instead gave to “Life of Pi”, which was Indian-flavored.

Affeck’s words about when the world knocks you down, get up, were illustrated minutes earlier, in a Forever in Oscar History Moment when Best Actress winner Jennifer Lawrence tripped on her massive Dior gown and face-planted right on the stairs up to the Oscar stage! For the rest of her career everyone is going to remember her like that! And then she got a standing ovation! Everyone loved her for it! And I did, too!

A great screen comedienne, as well as a talented actress, who is being rewarded at 22. And probably will be again, in a career that is looking by the minute. to be of LEGENDARY PROPORTIONS.

Her fall made the front pages of newspapers around the world! The New York Post headlined her prone picture with the words “Fallen Star”! Lolol..

That fall all but knocked Anne Hathaway’s win for Best Supporting Actress for her stunning, unforgettable turn as the doomed prostitute Fantine in “Les Miserables” out of everyone’s memories.

Hathaway’s unfortunate change of dress from Valentino to Prada, resulted in emphasizing her nipples to a ridiculous, impossible to ignore degree. I know. I know. It was only two seams hitting the wrong places, or perhaps the right places, because this made her pale, pale pink Prado famous around the world for all the wrong reasons. Joan Rivers cracked “Anne Hathaway was with the Pointer Sisters. And they were all very excited to be there.” I think, Anne Hathaway’s Nipples have their own Twitter account.

She’s a great, great young actress, who is just turning 30 and is at the height of her career, and I couldn’t be more happy for her! Congratulations, Annie! You had Oscar at “Hello”! The minute they released the “Les Miserables” trailer in June, I predicted she would win this! And I also predict this will not be her last Oscar. Only her FIRST!

There was a very rousing medley of “Les Miz” sung live by the entire cast, including Russell Crowe(!) and Annie. Another standing ovation! “Les Miz” got three Oscars, the same number as “Argo.” It also won Best Hair and Make-Up, as I predicted, and Best Sound Mixing, for its’ incredible blend of the live singing with a 60(!) piece orchestra that was added later! It’s a stunning achievement, my favorite film of the year and I wish it had won more.

The Academy really OWED Anne Hathaway an Oscar I.O.U. to quote Tom O’Neil, who was in Oscar heaven hyper-drive over at http://www.goldderby.com. After what she went through with James Franco! And their co-hosting a couple of years ago. That was ANOTHER one of Annie’s great performances as she kept trying to keep the show going at all costs despite Franco’s complete, er, disinterest…

And I can’t help but think that Ang Lee’s winning Best Director for “Life of Pi” and Annie’s win for “Les Miz” on Sunday night, were a kind of karmic pay-back from the “Oscar Gods” as Ang called it in his acceptance speech, for that awful night when “Crash” beat “Brokeback Mountain.” And the late Heath Ledger got his Oscar, too, although it was posthumously for “The Dark Knight.”

I was very happy for all of them.

A great, great, memorable show overall,too. I’ll never forget it! And I’ll have plenty more to say about it soon.

Oscar Buzz High on “Hitchcock”

As NY struggles to recover from the devastation of “Hurricane Sandy”, I struggle to keep up with the Oscar race, such as it is, now that half of Showbiz, the NY half is basically turned off.

The big event of the Oscar week was “Hitchcock”s premiere at the AFI fest in LA. It seems the reception was rapturous, and Pete Hammond of http://www.deadline.com and Tom O’Neil of http://www.goldderby.com both were there as was Anne Thompson of http://www.indiewire.com. Pete and Tom O. both agreed in their reactions. Both thought that BOTH Sir Anthony Hopkins and Dame Helen Mirren will receive Oscar nods for playing Sir Alfred Hitchcock and his feisty, smart collaborator/wife Alma Reville.

Hitchcock himself in his lifetime never won an Oscar, believe it or not, though his first film “Rebecca” won Best Picture in 1941.He was nominated five times for Best Director, but never won. And evidently there is a scene in “Hitchcock” where he complains about this while lying on a psychiatrist’s couch. Lolol…Can’t wait!

This OTT reaction of Hammond/O’Neil was matched by In Contention’s Kris Tapley. In Contention, his smart, savvy Oscar site has been absorbed into HitFix.com for those of you keeping track of these things.

As I’ve said before both Anne Thompson and he do a terrific weekly podcast called Oscar Talk, which airs after noon EST, even this week, with Tapley in New York. He said he was the only member of HitFix’s team that still had power. So there he was sounding loud and clear on Oscar Talk with Anne.

Anne Thompson did NOT like “Hitchcock” AT ALL. And she and Kris practically came to blows over it. In the end the gallant Mr. Tapley smoothed things over by a bet. He bet her that BOTH Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren will get nominated by the Academy for Best Actor and Best Actress. And Anne bet him a dinner with a bottle of wine that NEITHER would “get in.”!!!!

Now they RARELY differ to this extent. I have to say that I have not had the privilege of seeing “Hitchcock” myself yet. But Anne Thompson, as I do, feels Hitchcock is her “cinema idol” and she, unlike myself, does not want to see his reputation “tarnished” by these two recent depictions of him on film. “Hitchcock” and HBO’s “The Girl.”

So we have Pete Hammond, Tom O’Neil and Kris Tapley all saying “Yea” and only Anne Thompson saying “Nay.” These are died-in-wool Oscarologists and except for Tapley all are in my age group. I tend to think that they are right, the guys. Let’s face it, the Academy is all men.

And I think, at least in the Best Actress race, Dame Helen Mirren, already an Oscar winner for “The Queen” six years ago, is VERY likely to replace either Emmanuelle Riva or Qu’venzhane Wallis, who are both more than shaky in their slots.

The Best Actor race is the one that is soooo jammed with contenders. I think Daniel Day-Lewis will get nominated for sure for “Lincoln” which I saw, but am embargoes not to write about fully until Nov.7(!) So you’ll have to wait for my take on this heavily in contention film .

There’s also the upcoming Hugh Jackman in “Les Miz” (still unseen) and then John Hawkes in “The Sessions” is another certainty. And Denzel Washington in “Flight” just entered that race, with strong reviews. I really wonder about Joaquim Phoenix now.

After his remarked upon remarks about the Oscar being “utter bullshit” and a “bad tasting, dirty carrot” that he “didn’t want to taste” or “eat”, that and the failure of “The Master” on all fronts and its’ divisive  reaction critically may very well squeeze him out of this tight category. Especially with Sir Anthony and Hugh Jackman coming on strong.

I guess I feel more normal today. This is the first time that I have written about the Oscars since the storm hit.

And for the record, no, I did not see “Silver Linings Playbook” which is one of the many screenings that got cancelled because of the storm.

Also, Tom O. did not mention Scarlett Johansson as a contender for Best Supporting Actress for “Hitchcock” for playing the late Janet Leigh. I think Kris Tapley did and so did Pete Hammond.

Pete Hammond, since http://www.Deadline.com has merged with Variety is now probably the most important Oscar prognosticator in the biz.

Jeff Wells wrote a very weird review where he doesn’t mention the Oscar chances of either Hopkins or Mirren. You can read it at http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com

And Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone of http://www.awardsdaily.com was there, too,  but hasn’t posted her review yet. It doesn’t officially open til Thanksgiving Day.

Oh, and Oscar God Dave Karger, tweeted after seeing “Hitchcock” that he thought BOTH Hopkins and Mirren had “decent shots.”

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