a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Toronto International Film Festival’

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…

Oscar Mix-Up of the Morning! And I’m on “Machine Gun Preacher”s Fan Page!

This is suddenly turning into a very “The Artist”-centric morning.

I’m so tech-tarded. You all know that. And I’ve only been doing this Blog a year and I’ve only been on Facebook not even a year yet. I think I started in October ’10. Or later.

And THIS morning, I made the mistake of thinking that a TOPIC, or a HEADER on Facebook, is the same thing as a thread discussion. WHICH CHANGES.

Facebook just shows you the last two posts in a thread, so when this morning Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone was writing about how her favorite #1 movie of the year so far was “Shame” I typed in a response that I was shut out of seeing it at a Press and Industry screening of it at TIFF. It was full by the time that I got there. Often happens. Should’ve gotten there earlier….

And then Sasha thought that what I was referring to was – “The Artist”!!!!! Which is what the topic of the thread had CHANGED to. Not “Shame”.

No. I had seen “The Artist” at the MONTREAL Film Festival and written about it, for www.Awardsdaily.com called “The “Artist” Delights!….”

I just should’ve checked the HUGE amount of responses and comments Sasha gets on Facebook before I ever reply or comment on her threads again.

And in other Facebook news, I was SHOCKED! SHOCKED! To see my Oscar Messenger interview with Gerard Butler and Michelle Monaghan up on the “Machine Gun Preacher”s fan page! Now THAT’s never happened to me, before, like EVAH!

And then, I check my “News” section and guess what? The Hollywood Reporter” also referenced it on a thread of theirs about TIFF! And also referenced this humble BLOG! I couldn’t believe it! I guess I mean they linked to it.

Now I can’t find it! But it WAS there earlier! I swear!

Meanwhile, Sasha’s comment made me think that I hadn’t mentioned how I felt “The Artist” was received at TIFF. And it was liked, but NOT overwhelmingly so. I thought that it would be but it wasn’t. It wasn’t this year’s “King Speech” groundswell-on-everyone’s-lips type of reaction. So THAT kind of surprised me. I thought that it would be.

But y’know what that’s actually GOOD I think for TWC.(The Weinstein Co.) who OF COURSE don’t want their Best Picture possible contender to peak too early. Like “Up In the Air” did…(not their film, but just saying…)

So I think it will be VERY interesting to see what wins the TIFF Audience Choice Award. Which is the only award TIFF gives out, really. And the smart audiences at Toronto, really do have their fingers on the pulse. For instance, “The King’s Speech” won last year.

And “The Artist’ could win that award this year. OR it could be “The Descendants”. OR even “Machine Gun Preacher.”

So keep your eyes peeled for that announcement, dear cineastes, dear readers. With no clear favorite, to me at least, this year, THAT award will be a REALLY interesting and perhaps important choice and Oscar indicator.So don’t miss it!

Back in New York, it’s freeeezing! TIFF is just about over, but the Oscar race is just beginning!

I’m back in New York from the increasingly chilly weather of Toronto, and I hate to leave TIFF, as always. It’s like the circus is packing up and all the excitement is dying down…til next year…OR til the New York Film Festival starts, which is Monday! The press screenings I mean.

Which like TIFF, in some kind of weird film festival tradition are almost always held at ridiculous hours of the morning!

But I digress! I come back to find that while my own personal TIFF is now done, the Oscar race is only just beginning! But you all knew that already!

Jeff Wells of www.hollywood-elsewhere.com is still there, blogging his brains out. And having a completely different perspective on the race than I do. And that goes for Oscar goddess Sasha Stone of www.awardsdaily.com

who is comfy and warm in sunshine-y L.A….

Sasha has a particularly interesting take on the Best Actor race. As does Jeff. But both of them leave out Gerard Butler and his career-changing performance in “Machine Gun Preacher” completely! I beg to differ.

The night I left I was delighted to see ET Canada do a whole segment on Gerard and his Oscar chances. And the films’ too!

And I also have to beg to differ about Brad Pitt and “Moneyball.”

“Moneyball”? REALLY? A baseball movie? I mean, they DO like to keep nominating him for the star-power he brings to things…but if he’s going to be nominated this year for anything it’s Terence Malick’s “A Tree of Life”…which is serious, and pretentious enough for the Academy.

Or maybe in  this case, toooo pretentious. I predict that first 45 mins. of primordial ooze is something that is NOT going to keep those “Tree of Life” screeners from being ejected from Academy voters’ DVD players…

However Sasha and Jeff ARE right about George the Clooney being everywhere and charming everyone and everything in sight. I didn’t get to see EITHER of his two TIFF movies “The Ides of March” and “The Descendants” which everyone says is the better of the two.

But I don’t personally think that David Cronenberg’s TIFF bomb “A Serious Judgement” is going to get any serious Oscar consideration whatsoever. And that neither of its’ leading men, Viggo Mortensen or Michael Fassbender are going to be nominated for Best Actor or ANYthing for this film.

Anthony Del Col, and also Critic of Critics Thelma Adams join me at www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

for some VERY spirited Oscar buzz talk from TIFF. Thank you Anthony! Thank you Thelma!

Thelma’s segment is not up yet, but stop-the-presses Anthony is! And it’s great! Take a look as we try to parse Tilda Swinton’s Oscar chances for “We’ve Got to Talk About Kevin.”

It was Anthony’s idea to sit-in with me for a running Oscar commentary at TIFF. This is Anthony Del Col of “Kill Shakespeare” fame and he’s VERY good at this!

As he is at everything! We taped two complete episodes which equals something like six videos in You Tube time and I can’t WAIT for you to see them all!

I also have to point out that “The Ides of March” was underwhelming everyone I spoke to. Especially Anthony and Thelma, as you’ll see. I don’t think “Ides” is an Oscar slam-dunk by any means, though Oscar god Dave Karger says so.

If the TIFF tea leaves are being read right by me & co., it’s “The Descendants” all the way. Which means also if Ryan Gosling is nominated for anything, or more accurately for any of the two of his films that are out now, it’s going to be “Drive” that drives up people’s (and Oscar voters) temperatures and not “Ides.”

When you’ve got two films in Oscar play at a place like TIFF, one is usually going to eclipse the other, and I think that’s what happening with “Ides” and “Descendants” and “Drive.” The two “D”(entitled) movies are faring better on the TIFF buzz circuit, I would say.

But it WAS interesting in that there was no clear front-runner AT ALL. Not like “The King’s Speech” was last year and others like “Slumdog Millionaire” and “No Country for Old Men” were in other years’ at TIFF.

So I’m back, dear readers, dear cineastes, dear theatre-lovers of literature, and tomorrow night the BROADWAY season starts with a revival of “Follies” one of Stephen Sondheim’s greatest, so when the autumn breeze starts freezing the trees, I feel like TIFF’s warmth was one big fever dream!

Gerard Butler’s “Machine Gun Preacher” mows down the Oscar competition at TIFF!

Is it only Day Three? I feel like I’ve been here, at TIFF, my entire life! You enter into a Festival Time Warp (when a film festival is really working right and you’re out-of-town, especially) It’s a Film Festival Bubble that in some major ways you never want to burst. And return to reality but TIFF’s magic is in  full swing now. I think in the real world, it’s Saturday evening,and I’ve got to head out momentarily to the tres swank Unifrance party. Always a high point.

But ANOTHER high-point for sure was interviewing the great Gerard Butler today and telling him that ( I hope) he’s going to be going to the Oscars come February for the unforgettable “Machine Gun Preacher” which also is going to get a boatload of Oscar considerations in all categories.

You heard it here, first, folks. “Machine Gun Preacher” is one of the best film of the year, and Oscar may very well agree.

I predict that the Academy will not be able to resist the emotional powerhouse that is”Machine Gun Preacher.” And they certainly are not going to be able to resist the idea that Gerard Butler comes into his own as a magnificent screen actor whose acting chops match any one this or any Oscar season.

Playing a Real Life Action Hero and Savior of hundreds of lives in the war torn worst areas of Africa, Butler totally comes into his own and scares you to death in the first part of the film, where he plays a for-real criminal, and then morphs throughout the film into one of the most heroic men you’ll ever know of.

And I got to meet and interview the real life Lee Childers, who is a former career criminal and Pennsylvania red-neck and now is beyond reproach as someone is fighting the incredible fight in Africa. I can’t stop thinking about this movie! And you won’t either!

And neither will the Academy!

I got to tell Lee Childers, the screenwriter, director Marc Forster and Gerard Butler this news myself.
In person. This morning. At the Toronto International Film Festival.

I never thought I could realistically top my telling Colin Firth and director Tom Hooper of the “King’s Speech” that they were going to be winning Oscars that coming winter, only last year. This was also in the first days of the Toronto Film Festival. They were flabbergasted at the news. But yes, I was right. It was true. They did win.

And you can see me telling them this at http://www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

And very soon next week or sooner, I hope you’ll be able to see me work the same Oscar Messenger magic with “Machine Gun Preacher” on my You Tube Channel as well, with all these interviews I am so happy to be describing.

Let’s face it. George Clooney has already GOT an Oscar. And he’s got TWO movies here at TIFF vying for Oscar’s attention. “The Ides of March” and “The Descendants” They could easily cancel each other out. Tom Hanks, being directed by Stephen Daldry in the upcoming 9/11 drama, has already got TWO Oscars and these two along with Jean DuJardin of “The Artist” are so far Gerard Butler’s competition for Best Actor nods. Oh, yes, and Ryan Gosling too for “Drive” OR “The Ides of March.”

George was campaigning madly at Telluride evidently earlier this month, but…

Gerard Butler has not been nominated ever and he’s the right age and at the right point in his career to receive this honor. and recognition. I hope he gets it.

“Machine Gun Preacher” is going to be a film that this year, the Academy won’t be able to ignore.

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