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.

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.

March Doldrums…Oscars are over. What next? Holland Taylor as Ann Richards

Yes, dear readers, dear cineastes, the Oscars are over til, well, at least Cannes. Which is in May. Not that I’m going. Tres cher as the French say. And since every one else in the blogosphere will be there, one might as well stay put and not endure the French sun(too hot) or the humiliation if you get the wrong colored pass. You see, in Cannes, everything for the Press is determined by what colored press pass you get.

A certain color will let you march right in to the press screening you desire to go to. But if not, you have to line up with all the others who don’t have the right colored pass and wait til the other colors file in past you, taking up all the good seats. Well, sod that, as the Brits say.

Lining up in Toronto is enough of an ordeal in itself. You sometimes have to get there an hour early to get in to what you what to see. I’m remembering back to the “King’s Speech” which was at 8:45 AM, and yes, there was a line. A very long one. But as I got there particularly early, in fact, I was the FIRST ONE IN LINE, I knew I’d get in.

No such guarantee in Cannes…

Meanwhile, what else does one do in New York in March? Well, being a Voting Member of the Drama Desk, I being to start attending Broadway shows once again.

Yes, dear readers, dear cineastes, I foresake the movies for the plays, and last night I did just that starting my theater-going Spring season off right with the imploding powerhouse that is called “Ann.”

It’s a one-woman show about the late, great governor of Texas Ann Richards who was one hell of a gal, a real Texas broad who liked trail-blazing as much as she loved talking trash as well as liberal politics.

And Ann Richards is a great under-known American political figure and being a female Texas governor is no mean feat. And the real Ann Richards did it ALL.

Unfortunately, Holland Taylor, the actress who has the audacity to shoulder her story as a one-woman show at the cavernous Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont, has chosen not only to act alone on a over-sized stage that a musical would be lost on, but also to have written the wobbly book as well. *sigh* It could’ve been great. But it’s only a little less than so-so. The road to theater hell is paved with good intentions. Although “Ann” is more like purgatory.

Taylor, an actress who is now somewhere in her seventh decade, is someone I feel I’ve seen acting since forever. A typical WASP matron type, I remember her being grandly soused in a supporting role in A.R. Gurney’s “The Cocktail Hour,” and she’s been in many, many plays and television shows, and she was always, well, serviceable. Just OK. But not a star, by any means.

I guess she’s most widely known now for “Two and Half Men” and I don’t know who she’s playing on it, but it’s made her well-known and probably cemented her fortune, since she’s been on it since the beginning. Me, I’ve never watched it….And there’s certainly big bucks behind the lavishly produced one woman show that is “Ann”. If only Holland Taylor hadn’t written it herself.

She’s not much of a writer, but here, as an actress, for the first time in her long career, she truly dazzles. Esp. in the long, first introductory section where she is basically directly addressing the audience, as Richards, telling her uber-colorful life story. She really does shine here. And she’s basically quoting sassy, saucy lines that Richards actually said. And in this, she’s quite fine. And funny, too and endearing. You start to love her.

BUT—

She’s so good in this, so much so that when she begins to falter in the second act of the play, and even before that, you feel a sinking frustration that a great theatrical opportunity is being blown here.

“Ann” is just TOOOO long.

The minute Michael Fagin’s stunning set for the Governor’s Office is revealed, then moves forward in space towards Holland/Richards, it’s a dazzlingly theatrical moment, and the first act should’ve end THERE. But no, no. It goes ON and ON for quite sometime where we see Ann As Governor in action, as Ms. Holland takes her seat in the Governor’s chair.

And when she sits down, so does the play. And it never really stands up again. THEN there’s a SECOND act, with basically the SAME territory covered in the Governor’s office setting AGAIN, til I just wish she’d step forward onto the apron, relate directly to the audience and shineshineshine again. Finally she does, and I have to admit I admired Holland Taylor’s pluck, but basically about the time Ann was entering her 7th decade, I felt I had been there just about as long, and was ready for her to ascend into Demoratic heaven. And she does.

Why didn’t she get a PLAYWRIGHT to help her? The EGO of the actress in this regard is overwhelming. And terribly misguided. Or a director to help her shape this unwealdy piece of barnstorming? Benjamin Endsley Klein, whoever HE is, was listed as the director, but it seemed Ms. Taylor was out there flying blind. Oh well. She’s a good enough actress and is having the time of her life bringing the exuberant Ann Richards back to life, to make it worth your while to sit and watch her display herself for two hours. But be warned. You’ll be underwhelmed. But you’ll still like Holland Taylor, but you just wish somebody could’ve said STOP!

My Montreal Film Fest Wrap-Up Now up at Awardsdaily!

Very happy to report that my Montreal Film Festival Wrap-Up article entitled ” ‘The Artist’ Sparkles and Danny Huston Surprises!” is now up at the always exciting www.awardsdaily.com

I have to explain that this year the Montreal Film Festival moved its’ dates up to much earlier in the summer than its’ ever been. Usually it’s beginning this week in August, not ending, as it will tomorrow night.

So I had to go up and return to NYC BETWEEN Montreal and Toronto. Can’t believe I’m back here anticipating ONLY Toronto and done with Montreal already ~ until next year. And next year I was told that Montreal will be back in its’ old time-slot, so one experiences both festivals, one right after the other, which is what I usually do. But not this year.

The upside is that one gets to do one’s laundry and to get REALLY organized and rest between these two BIG film events.

Hmmm…maybe I’ll do this again next year…or not…

But yes, this is how I spent Irene. Writing about Montreal! Voila!

Trips Begin Before They Start

John Steinbeck wrote in his last book “My Travels With Charlie” which was about abandoning life as he knew it and just randomly driving across country in a mobile home with his beloved dog Charlie.

Steinbeck wrote “Trips Begin Before They Start and End Before They’re Over.” The capitalizations are mine. And I have found this to really hold true.

Today, as I was taking a bus, a very nice commuter bus,  that went over the Verrazano Bridge to Staten Island. That view from the bridge is just spectacular of New York Harbor which was busier today and looking more beautiful than I had ever remembered it, and I realized that I had already left mentally for my Great Annual Trek North to the great Canadian Film Festivals. Montreal and Toronto. And yes, they don’t start for a while yet, but mentally I’m already there. Though my body is still in New York.

Trips, or planning to go on them, takes a tremendous amount of  detailing, scheduling, planning, no matter whether you’re filming a television and web series as I am, or just going on vacation. And though this is the thirteenth year I’ll be doing this great global cinematic trek, it still surprises me.

You get to a point where you realize that yes, the trip is taking over your life and you just have to give yourself up to it and enjoy.

And true, I was just traveling to Staten Island, but yes, I was already in motion. Or wanting to be in motion, constantly.

I love trains. I love buses. Planes less so…

But I just realized this afternoon with still more than a real-time week to go, that actually there is nothing left of my life now, except PLANNING EVERYTHING TO GO.

And I always forget something.

I’m sure every one does.

You’ve got to cross all the “i”s and dot all the “t”s. No wait. That’s backwards. You see, it’s happening already.

You’re mind going to ~ What about this? Did I take care of that? What am I forgetting? What is it that I have to do TODAY? Before I go…Did I make all the phone calls I had to? Did I send all the emails?

And it was almost exactly a year ago, while not quite yet, but soon, that I wrote my first ever blog entry! And look! A year later and I’m still doing it!

Oh and there many, many things, and many days to do them in but like, for instance, I’m stopping seeing any plays or movies before I go. I have to keep my head clear to think of the mind-numbing numbers of films I’m going to have to see starting very, very soon, and really they ARE the most important films of the year.

Last year, at Toronto, for all of you who read my blog and watch my television show, you know how important Toronto was for me, and how crucially right it was for me to get up at 6AM that first Friday and get to the 9AM “King’s Speech” first press screening and then run up town in the VERY hot TO. heat to make it to the un-air-conditioned hallways outside the rooms where Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Tom Hooper were giving their FIRST press interviews and colliding with me, who Tom Hooper named “The Oscar messenger.” And how that began to change everything for me.

I ONLY do films now that I think are Oscar worthy. Doesn’t mean that they’ll be nominated, but they’re being BUZZED. Which means they MIGHT be. Which means they’ll be part of the Oscar Conversation that is going to go on for the next nearly six months straight. And Toronto REALLY started it last year.

For those who follow my dear Sasha’s great site www.awardsdaily.com (and if you don’t, you should!) will know that this year the drums starting beating extra early in Cannes, where Sasha went with her little daughter Emma Stone(no. Not THAT one.) with the Opening of Cannes with Woody Allen’s masterpiece “Midnight in Paris” which I have now seen SEVEN times!

And yes, that film is gonna be around when the nominations come out. It’s made more money than any film of Woody’s EVAH! And I NEVER see a film THAT many times! GLACK! What kind of hold does this film have on me? And others, too, obviously, by the box-office we know this to be true and people are going back and back and back to see it more than once.

The film is dense with cultural references, and it’s like a subplot trying to unravel all of them. Or ANOTHER movie in and of itself. It exists in two worlds as does its’ hapless hero Gil Pender….Owen Wilson becomes the new Cary Grant in this movie. No. I’m not kidding….

And oh yes, there were other films that unspooled at Cannes that Sasha wrote about so marvelously at Awardsdaily. “The Tree of Life” being another that has opened and has played well, despite its’ esoterica, and is still playing. Like “Midnight in Paris.”

And many Cannes faves are coming up at Toronto. TIFF is just loaded with them.

The first one that I’m going to be seeing is “Drive” starring Ryan Gosling, who I like, I really like, and whose director won the Best Director Award and well, Ryan’s performance is being buzzed, as he always is, when he’s got something that looks even remotely bait-y.

We shall see…

And then there’s Madonna, the new reborn directutrix of “W.E.” which I hear is “beautiful” and has Harvey Weinstein producing it! AND it’s about Wallis Simpson! The woman who set the plot of “The King’s Speech” in motion, lest me forget, last year. And you know where that ended up! AT THE KODAK! “Best Picture of the Year” “Best Actor” “Best Director” “Best Screenplay”!!!

And no, Harvey would NOT be risking the comparison of having “W.E.” be an also-ran to his last year’s Toronto Filly. So I’m betting that HW knows EXACTLY how good this film must be.

If he DIDN’T think it was THAT good, Oscar good, you can bet he wouldn’t be bringing a hot tamale like Madonna’s directing debut up to TIFF, NOR BTW would TIFF have ACCEPTED IT. They have very, very good taste, too, in these things. They are known as an Oscar launch pad, and they have a reputation to live up to,too.

Maybe this is HW’s strongest Oscar bet this year. He is certainly leading with his trump card. He’s got Meryl’s “Iron Lady” and Michelle Williams “My Week with Marilyn” coming up to. That’s Meryl as Margaret Thatcher, and Michelle as MM…those two films already scream BEST ACTRESS PERFORMANCES at me, and not BEST FILM. So with the “W.E.” placement at TIFF as a GALA…Well…

As John Steinbeck said “Trips Being Before They Start.”

And I can’t WAIT!

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