a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Toronto Film Festival’

NEW Kickstarter Campaign Just Launched! Get Stephen Holt to the Toronto Film Fest ’15!

SH Rainbow 1Yes! That’s right Kickstarter fans! Dear Readers, Dear Cineastes! Dear Lovers of Theatre! My new Kickstarter Project “Get Stephen Holt to the Toronto Film Festival 2015” has just launched on Kickstarter! And I’m humbled and honored to have their support once again in the attempt I make every year come hell or highwater to get to TIFF, as it’s abbreviated, and to see as many films as I can and interview as many stars as possible! And to bring attention and coverage to YOU my loyal fans and readers films that you might not otherwise hear about.

Here’s the link that I actually just sent out as a tweet! I’ve never done that before! “Just launched a new Kickstarter project to help The Stephen Holt Show get to the Toronto Film Fest. Details at  ”

Tweeting I mean. It’s a whole new world to me but then so was Facebook, which I resisted for years, and now I look at it a million times a day, at least. And also blogging. And here I am four-five years later and still posting to YOU!

If you are able to help, please do. The video put together once again by the great Kevin Teller tells the tale.

I couldn’t do what I do without your help.

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Jeff Wells Admits Eddie Redmayne Could Beat Michael Keaton

Theory2Theory 1

Well, it had to happen. Jeff Wells of Hollywood-Elsewhere, arguably the biggest supporter of “Birdman” now admits that yes, as I said all along since I saw it in Toronto, that Eddie Redmayne could very well topple Michael Keaton’s front-runner status for the Best Actor Oscar!

I couldn’t believe I was reading this because Jeffrey has been such a staunch admirer of Keaton, but all along I’ve been on Team Eddie!

What he has to do in “The Theory of Everything” as the severely crippled British genius Stephen Hawking in terms of the great Oscar determinator “Degree of Difficult” is off the charts amazing.

Disabilities, when they are as well and as feelingly portrayed as they are in “Theory of Everything,” are catnip to Academy voters and especially the dominant Actor’s Branch. But this will appeal across all branches.This film has Triumph of the Human Spirit written all over it.

It’s exhilarating. Inspirational to the max. When I think there’s something I can’t do these days, I just think of what that OTHER Stephen has had to go through all this life, and well, it just encourages me to struggle on.

And Jeff Wells writes about this feelingly in his latest posting, quoting David Denby’s elegiac, rapturous review of Redmayne’s performance in this week New Yorker.

Check out what Jeff had to say here at http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com

I never thought he’d admit it in print, but realist that Jeff is, he did.

I think the recently reconstituted Focus Features is doing this just right for Redmayne and “Theory,” just as I hoped they would.

There was a lovely piece on Redmayne and Felicity Jones, who plays his devoted wife, Jane,and who may also be in line for an Oscar Nomination of her own, in the New York Times, at just the right moment that it should be this past week.

This film is also an amazing love story on top of everything else. Based on Jane’s memoir, it is the story of both their battles, and her dedication to her husband in spite of EVERYTHING. Or because of EVERYTHING is just awe-inspiring. As is this film.

It’s hands down the Best Film of the Year, and I am so glad I saw it at the Toronto Film Festival in September.

If you put Stephen Hawking on the one hand and try to balance it on the other hand with a portrait of a self-absorbed asshole of an actor (Birdman) well, guess which way the awards’ scales tip?

Yes. I can’t believe it, but I’m going!

Montreal 1Every year about this time, I’m in a packing mode. My wanderlust descends upon me and yes, I’m off! I WILL be going to the wonderful Festival des Films du Monde AND the overwhelming Toronto Film Festival. TIFF! Again! For sixteen years and counting! And I’m very proud of it. It is an all but super-human achievement to get from here to there. As close as it may seem to New York.

But I have to acknowledge the great Beatles song “I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends.” Or I couldn’t do this. And no, Kickstarter failed me again this year. 😦 But I then had to become my own Kickstarter and voila! I AM going!

So thank you to those who’ve helped me accomplish this goal of goals. You know who you are. And who I asked but didn’t. It’s been rough.

And as there begins to settle in a slight autumn chill in the night air in New York, I know it’s time to go to Canada. Where, frankly, I’ve had some of the best times of my life.

People even THANK IAM Canadian. I’m not. But I like their mistake. And there will be so many wonderful films coming my way. And yours, because I’ll be talking about them alllll year, I’m sure. Toronto has the Oscar-bait-y ones. And Montreal will be hosting, as usual, films from all over the world. They are both treats in their own unique way. One VERY French, and one kind of British(that would be Toronto.) But I’m not gone yet! I hate this last week of waiting before I go. Don’t you?

 

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She’s Everywhere! Lupita and I

She's Everywhere! Lupita and I

I sat down to have a coffee in a favorite, unprepossessing coffee shop thinking about the Oscar Race this year. When am I ever thinking about anything else as Oscar Day grows closer and closer? Next Sunday, March 2 is the Awards themselves. Tuesday at 5pm the AMPAS voting closes. FINALLY! Has this been the longest Oscar year ever or what?

Well, it’s still the same two movies battling it out til the end, “12 Years a Slave” vs. “Gravity”. It’s been like this since TIFF’13.

Exactly like this, with a little “American Hustle” thrown in.

And as I sat there sipping my excellent cup of non-starbucks coffee, I glanced up, and there she was again! Lupita Nyong’o!!!! On ANOTHER cover! This time the theatrical newspaper Backstage! She’s everywhere!

She’s on the cover this week of EW, also New York Magazine, also Vanity Fair. I can’t keep up with it all.

She is extraordinarily photogenic. The camera loves her.

In reality, she’s tiny. So she’s always looking up at you with those big, dark soulful eyes.

I’ve met her twice. Once when she finished doing her “Leagues” or actor’s “Scene Night” or “The Actor’s Presentations” with her graduating class of the Yale School of Drama less than two years ago this past May.

She had an incredibly talented class, BTW. Michael Place being the actor who jumped out at me, but there were QUITE a few others, Fisher Neal, William DeMerritt. And of course Lupita herself.

We spoke briefly after it was over and she’s was polite and poised and I asked her to send me a picture and resume and she did, with a charming hand-written note, thanking me, which I still have. Her penmanship BTW was perfect. She charmed me instantly.

Then again we met at the Toronto Film Festival this past September, where “12 Years a Slave” was making a tumulutous debut, after she held what was to be the first of many, many press conferences that were to come her way this Awards Season.

She seemed overwhelmed. And most of her castmates and director Steve McQueen did all of the talking. I asked him about Lupita’s audition. And I believe he said, “It was like a dream walking into the room” or “My dream walked into the room” or something like that. “And there she was. I knew immediately, it was her.”

After the press conference was over, I got to talk to her again VERY briefly and I’m sure she remembered me from the post-Yale audition, and I complimented her profusely.
Telling her performance was “beyond words” and “Lupita,I’m known as the Oscar Messenger and I’m here to tell you that you are going to the win the Oscar and beat Oprah” Well, it’s true so far. Oprah wasn’t even nominated.

And Lupita’s response? She just giggled!

“Monuments Men” postponed! Getting out of Oscars’ Way of “12 Years…”

And so it continues. More and more Oscar drop-outs. Meaning they’re all getting out of the Awards season upcoming onslaught of “12 Years a Slave”! And who can blame them? The latest casualty of this brutal Oscar race is George Clooney’s “Monuments Men”. Opening it “in early 2014” is equivalent to meaning it doesn’t have an Oscar prayer.

And the premise, getting Art out-of-the-way or back from or something like that from the Nazis. Meh. Gorgeous George is writing, directing and  starring in it. This just doesn’t sound good. January and February are like movie grave-yards. The good stuff opens NOW. In October, Nov., Dec.

And “The Wolf of Wall Street” has also moved its’ purported opening from this fall. Which is now. Until Christmas. MAYbe. Maybe not. “Wolf” is the Martin Scorcese’s latest for Leo DiCaprio. 

As I said when I saw it in Toronto, nothing can beat “12 Years a Slave” for Best Picture and maybe many, many other categories, too. http://www.goldderby.com is now reporting Lupita Nyong’o the beautiful Yale School of Drama grad, who steals the show at “12 Years a Slave” as the  tragic slave, Patsie, has now passed Oprah Winfrey in the Supporting Actress category.

Which I was saying at TIFF. THAT role! The things that happen to Patsie are the worst, the most horrific abuses in that filled-with-horror movie. Lupita cried as she won the New Hollywood Award at the Hollywood Awards last night. The first of her probably many accolades this year and Oprah was nowhere in sight!

Tom O’Neil’s experts now have Michael Fassbender tied with Jared Leto for “Dallas Buyer’s Club.” Leto, who plays a draq queen in “Dallas Buyer’s Club” also just got a Hollywood Breakout Performance Award  last night from the Hollywood Awards. Which nobody takes seriously. Although E! just called it “The Official Beginning of the Awards Season.” Really? I thought that was the Toronto Film Festival. And Steve McQueen of “12 Years...” won for the Hollywood Breakout Director Award,

Gold Derby has “12 Years” winning Best Picture by a mile and also Chiwetel Ejiafor as Best Actor.

They’ve also got Cate Blanchett(“Blue Jasmine”) way out in front of Sandra Bullock for “Gravity”. Whose box-office, as every one knows, is in the stratosphere. For Best Actress. I think “Gravity” has become so big that the Academy is going to want to give it something big, besides all the technical awards it will surely win, and that will be Best Actress for the beloved Bullock. Bullock won the Hollywood Best Actress award last night, too. And wowed the crowd.

Meryl Streep in SUPPORTING for “August”??? I don’t think so…

One of the wackiest things I’ve heard in ages is Meryl Streep being announced as going Supporting for “August:Osage County.” Her character Violet Westin is an award-magnet bravura tour-de-force kind of role.It’s clearly the lead. It won Deanna Dunagan, a Chicago actress who debuted the part on Broadway a Tony Award.

Her co-star Amy Morton was nominated for the role of Violet’s confrontational daughter, but lost to Dunagan at the Tonys. Julia Roberts is playing this difficult part in the movie version, and we all wish her well. And hope she outdoes and confounds expectations, as I think she will.

Putting Meryl in Supporting leaves Julia as a Best Actress likely nominee, as we’re talking about her chances, too, at this moment. And then Julia on her own could get all the “August:Osage” votes, the thinking most be. She and Meryl could split the vote were they BOTH put in this category, both in Best Actress.

Putting Meryl in Supporting then pits her AGAINST Oprah Winfrey for “Lee Daniels’The Butler”. Both are Weinstein films? WHAT is Harvey Weinstein thinking? He’s also got a pretty good shot with Octavia Spencer for “Fruitvale Station.” Sharon Stone is also a likely nominee as Linda Lovelace’s straight-laced mother in “Lovelace.” Those are ALLLLLL Harvey’s films!

Now, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences allows its’ members to nominate actors and actresses in whichever category it chooses to put them into. So like the year Kate Winslet won Best Actress for “The Reader” even though Harvey campaigned her in Supporting for that movie.

If you may remember, that year Kate W. won BOTH Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress at the Golden Globes, who do follow the studios dictates.

So I think this is all just publicity palaver to get people to talk about “August:Osage” and ALLLL the wonderful performances by women I’m sure it contains. I can’t wait to see it at the Toronto Film Festival in a few weeks.

I think the Academy will put Meryl in the lead, and Julia, too, if they both deserve to be their.

And WHY is this all happening? Fear of Cate Blanchett’s great “Blue Jasmine.”

“August: Osage” after Toronto is going underground and will not be seen again or screened until Thanksgiving. Harvey’s release plan EXACTLY for “The King’s Speech.” But this ploy is so outlandish, it may lead Academy voters to vote for none of the “Osage” actresses and is just handing the win over to Cate Blanchett. Or is it?

Stay tuned. Drama ensues.

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.

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