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Year’s Ten Best Pt.2 #5-1 ~The Stephen Holt Show at Tavola!

And here’s the top five of my year’s Ten Best of 2012, the best of the best! With “Picnic”s Matthew Goodrich at Tavola, the hot new Italian restaurant. 488 9th Ave.
This has been one of the best year’s for movies in many, many years, soooo many grrreat films! If you’ve been following this blog, you probably know what I’ve picked before I announce it!

I See “Hitchcock” for the THIRD Time! Helen Mirren for Best Actress!

Seeing the wonderful “Hitchcock” again for the THIRD time, in light of the recent Golden Globe & SAG nominations, where Dame Helen Mirren as Alma Reville, Hitchcock’s late unsung wife, delighted me once again, and in ways I didn’t expect.

The Sat.nite NYC audience was very appreciative and laughed more than at the other two very packed press screenings I saw it at previously. And THIS time it also again got applause at the end! And this from the paying public!?

Something really good is going on here that maybe most critics have overlooked. It PLEASES  audiences, just as Hitchcock’s films did. The audience was always in the fore-front of Hitchcock’s mind.

I was enchanted all over again and was more impressed than ever with Helen Mirren’s marvelously layered, intelligent portrayal as Hitchcock’s real life wife, who was his greatest and until now unknown collaborator. Editor, writer, wife, critic, she gave Hitchcock her all and never asked for any credit and “didn’t want any” to quote director Sascha Gervasi.

You can see my interview with him lower in this blog, and also at www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow bien sur.

Mirren really dominated the film tonight in a way I hadn’t noticed her doing before. Before it had seem like a balanced duet between these two great actors. But tonight it struck me for the first time as Alma’s film. She seems the dominant one in the relationship, oddly, and not him. At home, he seems if not hen-pecked, then strangely passive, or submissive, next to Mirren’s fiery red-headed Alma.

Also since I saw “Hitchcock” last I read the Steve Rubello book it’s based on “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Pyscho.” And interestingly, there’s one, whole chapter on Ed Gein, the opening chapter of the book. And not ONE on Alma! Director Gervasi and his screenwriter really did take it upon themselves to make this Alma’s story, Her Time To Shine, since even Rubello dismisses or overlooks her in his book. Just as she always has been heretofore.

And seeing it tonight with a paying audience of civilian movie-goers, I came away more sure than ever that Dame Helen Mirren was going to get yet ANOTHER Oscar nomination for playing Alma Hitchcock. And the Golden Globes and the SAGs agree with me.

Also in Mirren’s favor is that fact that she is playing a REAL PERSON. A woman, who, historically, has been sinfully overlooked. And so not only is Mirren delivering a powerhouse performance on all levels and looking fabulous at nearly 70 and often in a bathing suit, doing so,she is reclaiming this lost woman’s story, and it’s a great and important one, for the ages. And what an original screen female character Alma Reville Hitchcock is!

Hitchock complains on the imaginary psychiatirist couch to his evil angel, the ghost of Mass Murderer Ed Gein, that he never got an Oscar, and well, I think this year the Academy is going to correct that by giving his smart, stylish, unheralded wife an Oscar nomination. A posthumous recognition, but recognition still.

Helen Mirren also has the advantage in that Alma Reville Hitchcock is a totally unknown personality to us. We know she had a posh British accent, but we don’t know how she walked, talked or “used her hands” as Dame Helen put it in an interview. So Mirren was free to create this most original character of this most original woman out of whole cloth. And we accept and applaud the authority and precision with which she protrays her.

And you know the Oscars, they’ve got to have a Dame somewhere at the Oscars. And Dame Maggie Smith and Dame Judi Dench are also in the mix. But of the three Dame Heleln’s is the most vivid performance.

But strangely, Sir Anthony Hopkins, however, was left out of both the important precursor nominations the GG and the SAGS. What to make of that? Well, it’s a very crowded Best Actor race this year. But his performance is so touching and multi-faceted,acting under what looks like MOUNTAINS of latex make-up and the fattest of fat suits, that the Academy may reward him, too, with a nomination.

The Best Actress race is wide open, still, with Naomi Watts perhaps muddying the waters with “The Impossible.” Keira Knightley’s nomination should be called the Impossible, which is a shame. For the controversial, deconstructed “Anna Karenina.”

The only locks are still the $400 million dollar girl Jennifer Lawrence who has the “Hunger Games” in her favor, although it is the “Silver Linings Playbook” that she is likely to be nominated for, and Jessica Chastain for her stoic CIA operative in “Zero Dark Thirty”. Marion Cotillard is looking pretty solid, still, as I’ve said all along since I saw at TIFF ’12, her marvelous, miraculous performances as double amputee in “Rust and Bone” and then there’s Rachel Weisz, coming up on the outside in a small British Indie “Deep Blue Sea,” which I saw at TIFF’11.

Weisz already has an Oscar (For “The Constant Gardener”), and so do Cotillard and Mirren, for “La Vie En Rose” and “The Queen” respectively. But I think it’s now ~

1. Jennifer Lawrence

2. Jessica Chastain

3. Marion Cotillard

4. Helen Mirren

5. Rachel Weisz

“The Impossible” is not doing well in this, its’ Opening Weekend, and if that continues, poor Naomi Watts will be a wash as well, in this suddenly contentious category.

Marion Cotillard Kisses Me at the Gotham Awards!

The highpoint of the Gotham Awards was a very personal one for me as  the major honoree of the night, Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard,  suddenly ran across the entire press room, and to much to my great surprise and delight began to hug and kiss me in an Olympian embrace that seemed to go on forever! Flash bulbs were popping like crazy, but I have yet to get a picture of this historic moment!

“You were one of the first people I talked to(when she came to America to publicize “La Vie En Rose”)! It’s been sooo long! We had sooo much fun talking!” she gushed. Oh mon dieu!

Talk about sublime! Of course I never wanted this Kodak moment of moments to end, but it did when I finally put both my both hands around her waist(it’s tiny) and said “I feel like I just won an Oscar! And YOU’RE the Oscar!”

The beauteous Marion was being honored for her tremendous portrayal of a paraplegic in the French film “Rust and Bone” or “De Rouille et d’Os” en francais.

I saw it at TIFF where I famously got up at 5:30AM to make an 8:45am screening. Thankfully, there wasn’t a line and I was VERY early and everyone had already gone inside the TIFF Bell Lightbox and sat down.

It’s a heart-wrenching movie, and Marion’s character,Stephenie,is at the start of the film, a sassy biker chick who is a killer-whale trainer in a Sea-World like arena in the South of French. Then one of her whales attacks her and bites her legs off.

“Rust and Bone” by Jacques Audiard (“The Prophet”) presents a world that tourists never see when they venture to the Riviera. It’s the hard-scrablle under-class that Marion’s character comes from and where she meets at a Disco( the soon-to-be-a-tremendous star himself) Matthias Schoenearts, a homeless would-be boxer and his young son. And after  her horrific accident, an unlikely romance ensues.

Marion’s performance in”Rust and Bone” was as tough as it was tender.

And that’s how I felt too, at the Gotham awards.

Every interview was a fight. The Red Carpet line looked like a mosh pit. And the press room, where I was much more comfortably situated for most of the proceedings, was like that, too.

Aggressive journos armed with seemingly harmless tape-recorders, pushed and shoved and monopolized the celebs who fearfully looked like they were wandering into a bear-baiting pit. AND THEY WERE. It was sad to see the Gothams turn into, well, into just like everywhere else. It’s an out of control jungle and you wonder how the stars navigate it. Nevermind stand for it.

Except when a cinema goddess like Marion Cotillard parts the shark-filled waters, makes everyone stand back, and well, kisses just YOU! As the jealous hordes seethed around us…well, then all that other enervating mess is suddenly worth it!

I definitely felt like Marion was after her second Oscar and y’know, she’s so sweet and charming, and her bare bones, vanity-free performance in “Rust and Bone” was so powerful & so touching, she just might get it!

Oscar Poker & the Mystery of Snuggles 4

On this week’s Oscar Poker podcast, which you can reach if you go on  over to www.hollywood-elsewhere.com ,host Jeff Wells welcomes www.goldderby.com & Tom O’Neil, the most indefatigable  Oscarologist of us all. And Tom is just raring to give us even MORE dish on the mysterious Gold Derby subscriber, who also predicts, and predicts BETTER than anyone, even though he is not a journalist. If you click on Snuggles4’s name at Gold Derby you will see just what he has said and when and where. But there’s a couple of caveats.

Tom O. created Internet headlines yesterday by saying that Snuggles 4(who named himself after the Fabric softener…lol) was predicting on OCT.6(!) that “Les Miserables” was going to have a “monster sweep” of the Oscars and win Best Picture. But if you go see just exactly WHAT Snuggles4 IS predicting,  you first have to sign up with your email account or your Facebook account, and THEN and only then can you see EXACTLY what Snuggles4 said.

And Tom O. reveals more in the podcast.

Upon prodding from Jeff Wells, Tom says that he does think that Snuggles HAS seen “Les Miz” and was utterly blown away by it. Tom demurs about this in his actual Goldderby articlepost, but Jeff got him to go on. He says Snuggles describes himself as “an industry gadfly” and “an industry insider,” and he’s afraid to claim his Gold Derby prize from last year, because he doesn’t want to “come out” which of course, according to my gay mind, is code for Snuggles being gay,too.

And he doesn’t want to reveal more because of “the people he’s associated with,” not who he WORKS for, means he’s an agent of some kind.

A gay agent? In Hollywood? Well, that narrows it down to just about the entire industry.

And no straight man would be THIS obsessed with the Oscars, the gay Olympics. Nor would a straight man call himself Snuggles.
Why should we care? Why should we pay attention? Because according to Tom O. , he’s been more accurate than ANY one. He also was predicting the Emmys!  And so…what did Snuggles actually predict, if we are to believe him more than anybody? Even Tom. Even Jeff.

Snuggles ACTUALLY predicts only FOUR wins that I could count for “Les Miz” Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress(Anne Hathaway), Best Director Tom Hooper(AGAIN!?!) and Best Production Design.

That’s only FOUR Oscars! That’s not a “monster sweep”! To be fair, what Tom was referring to was a “monstrous sweep” of the nominations. And yes, there were so many categories “Les Miz” was figuring in, according to Snuggles,  couldn’t quickly count them all, and THAT’S the sweep. He’s not predicting it will win in all those categories!

For instance, he has Hugh Jackman as his number five for Best Actor, but Snuggles has him losing to John Hawkes for “The Sessions” as Best Actor! He’s got Daniel Day-Lewis and Joaquim Phoenix in there, followed by Sir Anthony Hopkins for “Hitchcock.” I could totally see Hawkes winning, too, since you brought it up. Or rather Snuggles did.

Snuggles also has no mention of Dame Helen Mirren as Best Actress, but has Helen Hunt in the lead category, and not switching her to Supporting…And no Marion Cotillard. But Emmanuelle Riva of “Amour” is in. And she’s popping up everywhere and knocking Mademoiselle Marion out on many boards.

He’s got Jennifer Lawrence on top as does EVERYBODY ELSE IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD. Except Scott Feinberg, who demurred and thought that Qu’venzhane Wallis would get it for “Beasts of the Southern Wild”(!) “if the Academy picks up on her story.”

Meanwhile, Tom O. told Jeff that he thought the fact that SAG disqualified Q. Wallis and Dwight Henry from “Beasts of the Southern Wild” (they’re not members)might actually hurt their being nominated AT ALL by the Academy. SAG(The Screen Actors Guild) and AMPAS are two entirely different beasts, and not of the Southern Wild, thank you very much.

Vis a vis little Miss Q. ,Tom said that the snobby, clannish Academy’s Acting Branch Members, who would have to nominate her might think “Well, she’s not one of us.” Plus she’ll only be nine years old come February.

The plot sickens.

Oscar Actress Chances per Gurus o’Gold ~ Post TIFF

The Gurus o’ Gold at http://www.moviecitynews.com have posted their first rankings Post-TIFF. Having been a Guru for a couple of years myself, I take this quite seriously, but also at the same time with a grain of salt. Simply because most of the Big Contenders haven’t been seen yet. “Les Miserables”, “Lincoln”, the newly added “Hitchcock” and on and on.

abbreviating it all for you, I was sad to see “Anna Karenina” not make in it to their Top Ten. It was #11. I think that might change. I hope so. But Keira Knightley was clearly included in the five Best Actress choices, albeit at #5. Number One, I’m sorry to say, is Jennifer Lawrence in”Silver Linings Playbook.” Which, full disclosure, I have not seen. I’m looking forward to it, however.

The other four ladies included were Marion Cotillard for “Rust and Bone”, Qu’venzhane Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild”, Emmanuelle Riva in”Amour” and Keira Knightley…but missing were Dame Maggie Smith for “Quartet” OR Ann Dowd for “Compliance.” Two women I clearly thought would be included…

IFC is putting Ann Dowd in Supporting and she did not rate there at all, sad to say. Even though she’s clearly the lead in that taut thriller. OTOH, Helen Hunt’s category switch per Fox Searchlight has put her in the lead in the Best Supporting Actress comedy. This is for her all-naked, all-the-time, full-frontal sex surrogate in”The Sessions.”

Number Two in Supporting for the Gurus was Amy Adams in “The Master”!!!

And Anne Hathaway was Number Three for “Les Miserables.”

Dame Maggie Smith got in there, too for “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” even though her “Quartet” tour de force was snubbed in Lead.

And finally the supposedly miscast Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln in “Lincoln.” In the new trailer of “Lincoln” which is now out, she seems, well, OK.

I’ll have to react to the male side of the slate later. But the big question, Are they going to nominate TWO French actresses, Marion Cotillard and Emmanuelle Riva for acting in FRENCH? That would be a first, though both deserve it.

The Best Thing About This List. It’s a great clarifier, if nothing else. More soon.

 

More Oscar Actress Action – I Get the TIFF Catalogue for the First Time!

Landing like a bomb in my lap, after 14 years of yearning (they’re too expensive for words) is the 2012 TIFF Catalogue! I got handed one on the way out for attending a lovely do this week in NYC featuring Canadian Filmmaker’s whom TIFF is featuring. And was proud enough of to fly them all into New York and put them up in style for a presentation to the New York TIFF-bound press. Or some of them.

I was the most famous person there, which always makes me wonder…like, where’s everyone else? As I said, trips begin before the start, and the Toronto International Film Fest, was ALREADY in full, delightful swing at this event. Held in a swank Soho setting, with more free champagne flowing than I can ever remember anywhere at TIFF itself.

But the TIFF catalogue, with its’ beautiful, classy, snazzy, new 2012 red cover of movie-goers in presumably the Bell Light-Box, is a gift from the Gods, in full color yet, because in it is every single film of the 300 plus movies that TIFF is going to be throwing our beleaguered way in ONE WEEKEND two frenzied weeks from now. With extended and accurate descriptions of each film and complete contact info and credit list of each film as well. *swoon*

And aside from enjoying the hell out of its’ lavish self, what have I learned from it? Since we’ve been discussing actresses here, I’ll just continue along in that vein. Why? Because they’re easier to quantify. Less roles. Less films….Easier usually to get a bead on…Most films coming up later in the year, don’t feature lead actresses the way they almost all do men. The actress race is going to be decided at TIFF. I make one of my famous predictions. Or at least who’s going to be IN, and most clearly, who is going to be OUT!

ANYHOO, Simone….

Front and center, we find out that in addition to Laura Linney, Keira Knightley, Marion Cotillard, we now have Dame Maggie Smith coming full force at us in “Quartet,” the directorial debut of Dustin Hoffman! Set in an old age home for retired opera singers.(Does Dame Maggie let loose with an aria or two? Or just let loose with on-target zingers a la”Downtown Abbey”?”) it looks irresistibly Oscar-bait-y.

And now we can see why Fox Searchlight has been pushing Dame Judi for Supporting for “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” not lead, though she is the lead. Because they don’t want her colliding with her “Best Exotic” co-star Dame Maggie.

Dame Maggie is everywhere! Like her Oscar-winning role as Miss Jane Brody, she is in “Her Prime!” And that  right there is her problem. She’s won Best Actress before. For that very same “Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.”

“Rust and Bone,” Marion Cotillard’s feature in French, is playing for the public on opening night, but is NOT the Opening Night film. Something called “Loopers” is…In recent years, the Openers at TIFF have been almost ridiculous, if not laughable…Last year’s Canadian Hockey Musical “Scores” is a perfect example…So everyone will pile into the Princess of Wales theater in the theater district for “Rust And Bone.” This beautiful old candy-box of a Victorian show palace is usually housing legit features these days, but this year, it being commandeered by the festival, and will be where “The Master” is being shown. Because it can sustain the 70mm requirements of Paul Thomas Anderson’s much buzzed about take on Scientology. Or is it really about AA? Or something else? All will be revealed next week. Or the week after. Can I wait?

I can wait.

I’ve got to get through the endlessly enchanting Montreal Festival des Film du Monde first….I’m leaving SOON! BYE!

And “What Maizie Knew” with the always-wonderful, always-an-Oscar-bridesmaid, Julienne Moore is a gala presentation. As is “Hyde Park on the Hudson.” But the lovely Laura Linney isn’t enpictured in the catalogue! Only Bill Murray as FDR! What does THAT mean? If anything… Also a gala is “Silver Linings Playbook” with Jennifer Lawrence. The only Weinstein film in the Gala List…hmmm…

Then we have the Masters section, which is where “L’Amour” and Emmanuel Rivas can be seen, followed by “Special Presentations” which is where you’ll find Dame Maggie with her arms flung high into the air in “Quartet,” Keira Knightley looking ravishing in “Anna Karenina”(she ALWAYS looks ravishing), Marion’s “Rust and Bone” (used to be “OF Rust and Bone” in Cannes. They lost the “Of” I guess in translation), Greta Gerwig in “Frances Ha”,Kristen Wiig’s “Imogene”with Annette Bening in Support, Helen Hunt’s ” The Sessions”, Rachel McAdams AND Noomi Rapace in Brian Di Palma’s “Passion”…and well, it now looks like the Best Actress race is more crowded than ever! Oliver Sudden! And Special Presentations is where “The Master” is falling, too.

But by then half these films will be deemed worthy and the other half un-worthy. Separating the Oscar Lambs from the Oscar Goats is something that the Great Gods of TiFF are particularly adept at doing. And it can be brutal.

And Jeff Wells, that great Oscar scalawag, over at www.hollywood-elsewhere.com is stirring the waters today by saying he’s heard that ONE of the aforementioned films ^ is an unmitigated “disaster”! But he teasingly won’t say which one!

Usually, I rely in the TIFF-ites to choose their Galas and Special Presentations very, very carefully…Or maybe it’s something at the NYFF coming up immediately after TIFF?

Jeff said it’s something opening in the Fall…My best first guess would be David Chase’s “Not Fade Away” which is the centerpiece at the New York Film Festival. But it could be one of the above, or Jeff is just stirring the Oscar pot, as is his wont…

But if one of these films really does get blown out of the water, you heard it here first. Or rather, second!

Oscar God Dave Karger’s Toronto Must-See List is Out!

Oscar God Dave Karger has got his top  ten list of must-see films coming up in September at the Toronto Film Festival  up and out and at’em at http://www.ew.com. Dave is RRRRRReally good at this. Though last year with that EW “Oscar Issue” cover of George Clooney and Viola Davis getting out of a limo in full Oscar drag(Tux and shimmering gown) has never been able to leave my mind. Both notoriously lost to Jean Dujardin and Meryl Streep, lest we forget…

And Toronto is RRRRREALLLLY well known as an Oscar launching pad. More and More so every year. And yes, I’m going there, once again, my 14th year in a row, and I’ll be blogging from there letting you know what’s what. I am the Oscar Messenger after all. I have to be RIGHT about these things.

Of Dave’s picks, I am really looking forward to “Anna Karenina” directed by Joe Wright. Could this be Keira Knightley’s big year? Or is it the lovely Laura Linney in “Hyde Park on the Hudson”? They are both there this Sept. and so is Marion Cotillard’s Cannes stunner “Of Rust and Bone.”

I think right there you have three out of the five Best Actress nominees.

The pictures they’re in….Not so sure about. But those performances I see all three getting in.

Toronto or TIFF as it’s abbreviated has had QUITE a history with Oscar.

But I will say, no one thought “The Artist” which was there was The One at the time. I kept hearing “We haven’t seen the Best Picture of the Year” yet.” EVERYBODY was telling me this, and as a matter of fact, yes, we had. It was “The Artist” and Harvey Weinstein was soft-pedaling “The Artist” at TIFF last year. And that was a good idea.

“The Sessions” raved about at Sundance is also a possible contender and is on Dave’s list. But that is something only in the performances, I think.

Not Best Picture.

David O. Russell’s “Silver Lining’s Playbook” ia a Weinstein film, too. But I don’t know….I’m not getting strong Oscar vibes from people like Bradley Cooper or Jennifer Sullivan(yes, HER again).And that title. It’s difficult to pronounce, a real tonque-twister.

There are others on Dave’s list, so go check it out. I just think they’re wrong. So I’m not repeating them here.

But yes, to “Anna Karenina”, “Hyde Park on the Hudson” and “Of Rust and Bone.” Those arr MY top three. And today it’s a month until I leave for Montreal, which I go to first, always, before Toronto and which is where I saw “The Artist” for the first time.

In French-speaking Montreal, THAT was the #1 raved about film last year, and I’m soooo glad I saw it there. It was absolutely magical.

As Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone always says “Don’t underestimate Harvey Weinstein” And of course, she’s right.

Sasha also sez “Don’t underestimate Dame Judi Dench.”

SHE’s in the early-part-of-the-year hit film, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” that is continuing to break box-office records on BOTH sides of the Atlantic.So it is not playing Toronto. It’s all and only the new films there, comme tous les jours. And which category will they put Dame J. in? Most think supporting, though she is the lead in that film, certainly, the central character.

“Argo” Ben Affleck’s new film is being heavily buzzed, but they didn’t nominate his “The Town” last time around, so I’m skeptical.

And some of the biggest Oscar contenders are waiting til LATER. Like of course, “Les Miz” and “Lincoln” and Harvey’s “Django Unchained.”

Wish I was already on my way there! J’attends avec impatience!

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