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!

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