a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Toronto International Film Festival’

Hera Hilmar, Rising Icelandic Star!

Meet Hera Hilmar! Really, Hera Hilmarsdottir, a beauteous Rising Icelandic star, who I met at the Toronto International Film Festival on a very hot, uncharacteristically tropical 100 degree day! She went to Lamda and lives in London, but Hollywood is knocking on Hera’s door! She’s irresistible! The film she was at TIFF with was called “Life in a Fishbowl.”

TIFF is burning up! The temperature, I mean!

OMG! Is it hot here today in Toronto! The weather, I mean, and of course, the Toronto International Film Festival, too! I was just interviewing a series of very talented young people, on a tiny patio, in the sun, outside. Which started out OK as I talked to a young Iranian actor Omar Hedey about his role as a cockroach – obsessed (they are his pets) young Canadian in the short film “The Underground.” It was temperate, at that time. It was pleasant. The weather I mean. I never thought I’d ever live to see the day when I was interviewing some one about cockroaches, but I was. And I was enjoying it! It was a good short film.

Then the Icelandic beauty Hera Hilmer came out and we were wearing matching blue outfits. She’s so young and so beautiful that she takes peoples’ breath away. Mine especially. She’s in the new Icelandic film here “Life in a Fishbowl.” She lives in London and speaks English with a charming  Icelandic/British accent and was outfitted all in blue. I was feeling the temperature begin to rise.

I ran back inside the air-conditioned, but small publicist’s office, and then had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Thor (valdor David) Christianson, and then the Movie Godz turned the heat WAY up! The temperature hit 100 degrees Farenheit, and Thor, as he’s known and myself really began to roast. He was squinting and we were both sweating and my head began to spin, as the sun beat down on us, like we were in Monument Valley in a John Ford western.

But we’re in TORONTO! In September!

We had to stop, sadly, but soon you’ll be able to see all of this Icelandic glory on You Tube. He’s in the same film as the beautiful Hera. They are both incredibly sweet and charming and charismatic. But I still don’t know what that film was all about. But I intend to see it again.

You’ll be seeing both of them. A lot. In the future, I’m so sure. Thor went to Juilliard. I’m not making this up. And he said “It was the happiest time of my life.” And Hera went to LAMDA in London, where she new lives, and is in great demand there in film after film.

I’m still feeling the heat. From their star-power. And from TIFF, of course!

More soon, dear readers, dear cineastes!

 

 

 

 

 

Only one week left! To help fund my Kickstarter Project to Toronto!

Only one week left Stephen Holt Show fans! Dear readers, dear cineastes! We need YOUR help to get to the Toronto Film Festival this year! 2014 is shaping up to be a very exciting year with great films galore at Toronto! Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher” as I mention in the video clip, and David Cronenberg’s “Maps to the Stars” among them.

I can’t tell you how crucial the Toronto International Film Festival is to my continuing coverage of all the stars that I get on the level that I get them. And the hotels adjacent to the Film Festival have raised their prices accordingly. Which is what has put me in this Kickstarter mode.

And right now, if you’re reading on this far, I can tell you that so far we have received $0.00 which is just a devastating figure to have to deal with.

I know you are out there, friends, Facebook-ers and fans! PLEASE HELP! Only one week left before Facebook turns off the lights!

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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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My Kickstarter Video! We need to your help to get to Toronto!

This is the video I made for Kickstarter. Kickstarter is a wonderful thing. It can really make a difference in artists’ lives. And we are trying to raise the $ to get to the Toronto Film Festival this year! And we’re nowhere near our goal If you love quality TV, this is a vote for it. No donation is too small. Some one kicked started it with just $1.

The clock is ticking! If you don’t contribute by midnite July 17 all the money raised goes back to the people who so kindly donated and not to us, and we don’t get to do the fabulous interviews like the ones you’ll see excerpted here.

Jake Gyllenhaal, Laura Linney, Keira Knightley and Jude Law are all on this video. They like my show and they like YOU my viewers! So help us get to TIFF! The abbreviated name for the Toronto International Film Festival! That’s where I interviewed all these brilliant people last year! And you have to keep going their to get them!

Watch the video, where I explain it all, then go to Kickstarter to contribute, but do it fast! Time is running out!

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VIA Rail’s Lovely Elaine McColloch Explaining the Joys of Canadian Train Travel

Thinking of traveling…Always…And as explained to me last year in the brand new Panorama Lounge at Toronto’s new refurbished Union Station, by VIA Rail’s lovely spokesperson Elaine McCollouch, it sounds irrestible!

Best Actress Race – Pre-Festivals, Pre-TIFF

So, just where are we now with the only race I feel that has some clarity this early, and on the other hand, is also wide open? Certainly compared with last year’s Best Actress race. Which was locked and loaded VERY early on in the season, if you remember. But perhaps you don’t. Rooney Mara’s sneaking in at the last-minute with “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and her star-making turn as Lisbeth Salander, was the only surprise within that top category last year.

This year, with the exit of presumptive front-runner Carey Mulligan’s “The Great Gatsby” being shifted to NEXT SUMMER! GLACK! It’s mustn’t’ve so Great after all!

With Mulligan’s departure, this leaves many, many openings, so some surprises from the Indie world, like the stunning, scary tour-de-force of  veteran character actress Ann Dowd in “Compliance.” And certainly with Qu’venzahne Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild” still hanging in there in release after three months, and still making money for Fox Searchlight.  That’s two Sundance ladies, although one is only 8 years old and the other well past 50. THAT’S interesting right there, in and of itself, it’s a unique pairing…IF it happens…Sundance didn’t have any gals in the Best Actress round-up last year, now it is making up for lost time with TWO.

Then there’s the absurd rumor that BOTH could go Supporting! Uh-oh! Category confusion! The dreaded Oscar disease that killed Viola Davis’ chances last year(among many other reasons).  If NEITHER Dowd nor Wallis end up in Best Actress, the category is RRRREALLY wide open.

Remaining are the soon-to-be-seen Helen Hunt, also out of Sundance, come to think of it with “Sessions.” She’s won previously of course and that always sort of hurts. Unless it’s a category with all previous winners. That was for “As Good As It Gets” where she played a worldly-wise waitress. Opposite Jack Nicholson.

Another previous winner Marion Cotillard has a VERY strong shot, it seems, with “Of Rust and Bone” which won her screaming raves out of Cannes this year. But NOT the Best Actress Award there. Which was a surprise.

She, too, is a previous winner for her incandescent, unforgettable Edith Piaf in “La Vie En Rose”. She’s also in TDKR, too, remember this year. Something every Academy Voting member will have seen, even if it gets neglected in the nominations and I think it will…. But “Of Rust and Bone” is in French.

They COULD hold that against her. Since also acting in French this year is another Cannes contender, which DID win the Palme d’Or, Emmanuelle Rivas in “L’Amour.” TWO Best Actress nominees BOTH acting in French? I don’t think so. But if anyone can score acting in her own language once again it’s the beautiful Maid Marion.

Also soon to be seen at Toronto, along with “Rust and Bone” and “The Sessions” is Keira Knightley’s new star-turn as “Anna Karenina.” Directed by the extraordinary British helmer Joe Wright, who guided Knightley to her first and so far only Oscar nomination in “Pride and Prejudice.” Will this be a lucky charm once again for this dynamic duo? Or will she just fall short of a nod, and get snubbed, like she did for “Atonement”, which was certainly nomination-worthy in MY book.

And then there’s the darling Laura Linney, ALSO at Toronto, along with Hunt, Cotillard, and Knightley, WOW what a line-up! I’ll just be running from one Best Actress possibility to another in two weeks. Laura Linney has been picked by Tom O’Neil’s Gold Derby as the Numero Uno Best of the Best for “Hyde Park on the Hudson.” She has been nominated three times before and this would make FOUR. She’s playing a real person, FDR’s until now, unseen and unrecorded mistress. And everybody loves Laura. She’s everywhere. She got a critically lauded TV series “The Big C” AND she introduces “Downtown Abbey” on PBS with great class and style. She’s due, if anyone is!

And perhaps even more importantly, “Hyde Park on the Hudson” has now ALSO been picked up by the NEW YORK Film Festival, which doubles Linney’s(and the pic’s) prestige chances. Neither “Of Rust and Bone” nor “Anna Karenina” has scored THAT particular double festival whammy.

Well, in two weeks time all will be revealed….And unless some one pops up in a year-end movie, like for instance, Anne Hathaway being put in lead, not Supporting for “Les Miserables” By George, I think we’ve already got our Oscar lady ducks all in a row! And all at Toronto, too! I can’t wait!

The Impatient Traveler ~Trips Begin Before They Start 2012 version

And  once again, as I madly prepare to depart New York for the Great White North’s two great film festivals, I felt today, like I was leaving tomorrow.

And I’m not!

I’ve still got twenty-five MORE days til I’m officially outta here, and I can’t wait! J’attends avec impatience!

I’m going to the Montreal and Toronto Film Festivals for the 14th year in a row, and I couldn’t be more thrilled! But this year has been more difficult, it seems than any other.

Trips aren’t easy. You can quote me.

And getting an entire television show On The Road, well, it’s never just like one’s going off by oneself somewhere remote. Something I never do.

Lately I prefer to just stay put, although I love to travel, but hey, if I can be being FILMED while I travel, well, that’s what I can now say I like. THAT makes it fun for me now.

And with all these wonderful film festivals with their wonderful films alllll interested in l’il ole me, well, I just love it!

Yes, you’re working/traveling, but I like that. And I LOVE film festivals! And I love film. And I love movie stars. And I love talking to them. As I will be doing A LOT, I hope, coming up at TIFF and Montreal.

I changed all my money into Canadian already and what a shock the exchange rate is now for Americans! Yikes! Canada is doing very, very well financially, and let’s face it, as I had to at the bank this morning, the U.S. is just NOT.

But it’s sooo funny, and rewarding, and thrilling, to see all your money suddenly in pinks and purples, instead of GREEN! I wonder if I look at the world through rose-colored glasses. I think I do. Well, certainly through gay-colored glasses whatever color that may be. Rainbow?

And I do wear glasses.

So of course, my spirit is flying north, and my body just irresolutely stays put. Here. Where it was feeling like 100 degrees on the white-hot pavements.

I got my train tickets. Yes, I’m traveling by train again this year to Canada. Amtrak all the way. And it was very exciting to actually have them in my hands. More so this year than most. A concrete affirmation that yes, I am going at such and such a time and that I’ll be on this train and arriving at this approximation. (Trains always surprise one one way or the other.) And I’ll be taking the Adirondack which is considered one of the most beautiful, scenic train routes there is, going from New York’s Penn Station, which was like an oven today. And arriving ten hours later in the endlessly dazzling city of Montreal.

Montreal ~~~

I could go on and on for hours and hours about how much I love that city. And well, I have been doing that on my TV show, FOR FOURTEEN YEARS. I never miss it. It’s so thoroughly French. You travel for ten hours and then SUDDENLY you’re in France!

I can’t wait! J’attends avec impatience!

But I’ve still got three and a half weeks to go….:(

Harvey Weinstein Changes Oscar Chess Game ~ Again!”The Master” to be shown at TIFF!

The great chess game/board that is Oscar just got a little bit more complicated and a little bit more interesting with the Weinstein Co.’s sudden announcement that Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” is now opening at the Toronto International Film Festival.

This renders Dave Karger’s “Top Ten Film To See at TIFF” list, er, a bit outdated. Because now this move makes PTA’s “The Master,” his first film since “There Will Be Blood,” now THE movie to try to get in and see REAL fast at Toronto! And *groan” I’m sure it’s going to be one of the 8:45am press screenings!

Yes, they do have them. And they keep scheduling them. This was the exact same slot that “The King’s Speech” was in two years ago. And I bet it’ll be right at the beginning on FRIDAY morning, and then they will have the press day, press conference and junket, if there is to be one, right after that.

This is how Harvey does things, and by holding back “The Master”s news til now, after the first round of TIFF films was announced, “The Master” now gets maximum and SERIOUS Oscar publicity. Whether it lives up to the hype or not, we shall see.

The venerable Steve Pond at “The Wrap” seems to be the one that broke this story first, but he certainly got the juiciest quote of TWC. This of course is the fact that the film is supposedly an expose of Scientology. Or a religion very similar to it. And the break-up of the Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes marriage is on everyone’s mind. Did this influence the change in release strategy by TWC?

To which someone there, who Steve Pond is quoting says, “It sure as hell can’t hurt.” It’s quotes like that that sell tickets.

You can read all about it at http://www.thewrap.com It’s a very good, solid website. I like it.

This also changes TWC’s emphasis in Toronto. It now shifts the focus from “Silver Linings Playbook” the David O. Russell Bradley Cooper/Jennifer Lawrence starrer to, well, “The Master”.

The fact that it’s also now being shown in Venice indicates to me an Oscar strategy being put into motion. This ia  a game that Harvey has played before, and played it this way, and won.

But is a movie about Scientology, starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquim Phoenix,  any match for the later- in-the- year films, films like “Lincoln” and “Les Miserables,” certainly crowd pleasers? At least on paper.

Time will tell, but it does seem like TWC has now kicked “Silvers Linings Playbook” ever so slightly to the Oscar curb, and planted “The Master” s Oscar flag RIGHT in the middle of everything.

Another slight tip, though. It’s a Special Presentation at Toronto, not a Gala. If TIFF thought that much of it, they’d have made it a Gala. Interesting….And Phillip Seymour Hoffman is always great. THIS we know.

If this wins the Audience Award at TIFF, look out “Lincoln” and “Les Miz”! It’s a Harvey Weinstein World and we’re all just living in it!

This move, coupled with the Venice Film Festival bow, as well, immediately preceding TIFF, makes “The Master” a film we all now HAVE to take seriously Oscar-wise.

Oscar Homerun for Brad Pitts’ “Moneyball”! It made even ME like baseball!

I just LOVED Brad Pitts’ “Moneyball”! And his winning, rousing, surprisingly moving performance in the great movie star tradition may garner him his third Oscar nomination, and maybe he’ll finally win Best Actor, for his terrific tour-de-force turn as real-life Oakland Athletics general manager, Billy Beane. Who evidently made history by turning his losing team around and through his statistical micro-managing, his Beane-counting, if you will,  got his under – financed, underdog  Oakland As to break a historic American League baseball record of winning streaks.

Now I know I must be sounding like I’m a baseball fan or statistician. But I’m not. I’m definitely not. As a gay man, I was stereotypically not good at sports, and not into them at all. But there were many times in my life as a gay (or certainly gender confused) child growing up in the Bronx, where I wondered just what all the fuss was going on on the other side of my hometown borough.

Recently I have seen two Oscar-seeking movies a bit late in their Oscar life. And I have been astonished to find that I liked both of them A LOT.  A lot more than I ever thought I would, given their misleading advertising and pre-open trailer campaigns, if they can even be called “Campaigns.” And “Moneyball” is certainly one of them. The other being the tremendous “The Help.” But more on that surprising, haunting film later.

“Moneyball” was one of the big Gala openers at Toronto this year, and though one could not ignore the fact that it was there, and  that Brad and Angelina were in town, I chose to skip it. It was a sports movie. A baseball movie, at that. I never liked either genre, or sub-genre. I severely doubted that I could relate. Given my sports-deprived background.

And for the first half hour or so, I didn’t know WHAT was going on with it. The baseball inside talk was so thick.  What WERE they talking about? And it seemed to be statistics, statistics, nothing but baseball statistics, which is actually what the film turns out to be all about.

The Oakland As are losing and Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, their now-legendary general manager, tries to figure out how to change that and break their losing streak. Baseball these days its seems, is all about money. Hence the “”Moneyball” title.

Now Brad Pitt is also not one of my favorite actors. He phones it in all too often for me to label him an actor’s actor, say like his almost unregonizable co-star Phillip Seymour Hoffman who plays the Oakland As official coach certainly is. But Pitt goes beyond himself here and really soars into great acting territory with “Moneyball.”

He’s not phoning anything in, and “Capote” director Bennett Miller and also co-star Hoffman as the Oakland A’s frustrated and angry coach, keep Pitt as real as real can be.

I’ve also never given a thought to what a baseball team’s general manager does, but by the time you finish watching “Moneyball” you’ll know that, and just about everything else about baseball these days, upside down, inside out and backwards.

And you’ll know that for sure Brad Pitt is once again on his way to the Oscars, and maybe this time he’ll win! He redefines himself in a way that I thought he never could, but here, in the role of his career, he does!

The only thing I was disappointed with was Jonah Hill’s rather monotonal performance as Pitt’s nerdy acounting assistant. He gets better as the film goes on, but I thought he was the only flaw in an otherwise flawless film.

“Moneyball” did the impossible, made ME like, and get into baseball. So much so that I was cheering for Pitt and his underdog Oakland As and you will be, too. Now, will Oscar follow suit? Pitt will be in the running for sure. And with his other rather mold-breaking performance this year in Terence Malik’s “Tree of Life” as the stern disciplinarian ’50s dad…well, you just can’t avoid Brad Pitt’s emergence as a powerful, fascinating, Grade A actor with a Capital A.

Go see “Moneyball”! You’ll love it! Even I did…

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