a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘viola davis’

Magnificent August Wilson Doc on PBS tonite at 9!

August WilsonDon’t miss the superb American Masters doc on the late playwright August Wilson tonight on PBS at 9pm! It’s one of their best ever, and they are always good, and usually better than good. But this one really lives up to the Masters title.

And I knew August. And saw him constantly in my days up at the Yale Rep when I was filming my TV show “The Stephen Holt Show” which in those days had the sub-heading “Onstage, America!” because we traveled at the time to Regional Theaters all over the country. And still do.

I always ran into August backstage in the Green Room of the Yale Repertory Theater, and he was always smiling. The happiest, widest smiles, with dark eyes that danced. He seemed in those moments one of the happiest men I’ve ever met.

And why shouldn’t he have been? His plays were being done, one right after the other under the direction of the legendary director Lloyd Williams, who was also the artistic director of the Yale Rep and Dean of the Yale School of Drama at that time.

I never saw him in less than an upbeat moment. And when he was first pointed out to me, that THAT indeed was the great African-American playwright, I couldn’t believe it, because he didn’t look black at all, and also he looked like a journalist or a producer.

This great documentary American Masters — August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand — is premiering nationwide tonight, this Friday, February 20 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) in honor of the 70th anniversary of Wilson’s birth, 10th anniversary of his death and Black History Month, and available on DVD February 24 from PBS Distribution.

Directed by Emmy and Peabody-winner Sam Pollard (When the Levees Broke; Slavery by Another Name), the first documentary about the Tony- and Pulitzer-winning playwright who chronicled the 20th-century black experience explores his life and legacy. James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad, Laurence Fishburne, Viola Davis, Charles Dutton, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, new dramatic readings and rare footage tell the story of “America’s Shakespeare.”

The scenes from Wilson’s 100 year cycle of American plays, one for each decade are marvelously well represented here by all parties. I’d seen most of them, eight of the ten to be exact either on Broadway or at the Yale Rep when they were on their way to Broadway.

And I was very, very fortunate to have the late Lloyd Richards as my acting teacher one summer at the Univeristy of Rhode Island, so I felt particularly effected seeing him live again through his work and discovery of August, his great protegee, and this doc reveals for the first time, I think, just why this great creative team ruptured.

And director Sam Pollard doesn’t flinch with the hard-hitting details. I was riveted from start to finish, and particularly was moved by Phylicia Rashad’s portrayal of the 300-hundred-year old African-America woman who symbolized slavery in a monologue of “Gem of the Ocean.”

This high school drop out wrote many, many great plays in a life that was ended by cancer, just like my friend David Carr, in his 50’s and too soon, too soon.

DON’T MISS IT!

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Lupita & Cate on cover of EW! And the Winners Will Be…AND I AGREE!

Lupita & Cate on cover of EW! And the Winners Will Be...AND I AGREE!

How much do I love this cover of Entertainment Weekly’s Oscar issue, which doesn’t even hit the stands until Friday! They are my predictions to win, too!

This is a big change from EW’s previous Oscar cover of a few weeks back. Lupita was nowhere to be found on the cover. The gals pictured were Jennifer Lawrence, Sandra Bullock and Cate. JLaw where are you now?

Of course, the last time they did this kind of predictive cover was two years ago with George Clooney and Viola Davis, and embarassingly neither one won! And I wondered if that was why Dave Karger, an excellent Oscarologist left EW. For Fandango. But still..

But the timing was different it was way BEFORE the voting even started. This time the voting is nearing its’ end with most Academy members making sure their vote is in and in EARLY. The voting started this past Friday, and this issue isn’t out until Feb.28, supposedly, and those who use the Snail Mail route KNOW they have to get it in ASAP. If it doesn’t arrive on time, it’s not counted.

And evidently this year the online voting is going SMOOOOTHLY. Not one article or blog piece has been written to the effect of Academy web-site SNAFUS. So I guess all is AOK.

But congratulations to both ladies for a striking cover! How far we’ve come! When a young actress of color can go from zero to hero in a few short weeks! Lupita’s everywhere.

And Jennifer Lawrence won last year. They love her, but they are NOT going to give it to her, a great comedienne, as wlll as a bona fide box office star TWO years in a row and she’s not even 23!

Lupita is 30, though she looks much younger, and a graduate of the Yale School of Drama where Oscar Queen Meryl Streep went. I rest my case.

Qu’venzhane’s Best Actress Oscar Upset?

The one thing NOBODY is taking in to consideration in the now very competitive Best Actress Oscar race is the fact that NOBODY in that category has yet to compete against its’ youngest ever nominee, the now 9-year-old dynamo that is Qu’venzhane Wallis.

As my Oscar Idol Tom O’Neil keeps saying over at http://www.goldderby.com and I quote “Oscar likes Little Girls.” And historically, he’s right. Patti Duke? Tatum O’Neal?Anna Pacquin? Anyone? But they all won in Supporting. If Qu’venzhane was in Supporting, she just might win. But the Academy wisely nominated her in lead Actress which is where her astonishing performance belongs. A six-year-old carrying this entire movie? It was astounding! I’ve never seen a better performance by a child actor, or actress. She was unforgettable.

But she’s not gone up against the other ladies ANYwhere. So there’s no telling what havoc she might wreck. Jennifer Lawrence is the presumed front-runner for “Silver Linings Playbook.” But just this Sunday she showed surprising weakness at the BAFTAS in London when she lost to 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva for “Amour.” But Qu’venzhane was not nominated for a BAFTA.

In fact, the Academy Award is the first serious Best Actress race she has competed in, against these women.

Well, yes, she did win Best Young Actor(or Actress) from the Broadcast Film Critics. I think she got Best Breakthrough Actress from the National Board of Review. And she won something similar from the Hollywood Film Awards.

And she’s charmed EVERYONE with her acceptance speeches. She irresistible. And Oscar likes to SURPRISE. And this would be a surprise!

It’s so boring that we all know “Argo” is going to win Best Picture(but deserving), and especially boring that Daniel Day-Lewis for “Lincoln” and Anne Hathaway for “Les Miserables” (who deserves it) are going to continue their march to the podium.

Jennifer Lawrence is also very young, 22, but Qu’venzhane is 9, and she did “Beasts of the Southern Wild” when she was six.

Exhibit A for Qu’venzhane ~ Everybody now pronounces her name correctly.
And Exhibit B – They also have learned to SPELL it correctly.

Tom O’Neil and Pete Hammond of http://www.deadline.com joked about her name in many early podcasts, but they are not laughing now. Calling her Miss Unpronounceable. They are NOT saying that anymore. In fact, BOTH have learned to say her name correcly, and say it with respect.

Exhibit C – The Academy liked “Beasts of the Southern Wild” enough to nominate it for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenply.

Benh Zeitlin has just turned 30 and he ALSO ranks as one of the youngest directors to ever be nominated, too, btw.

Some people feel a child that young’s performance is not an acting performance, it’s a manipulation of the child by the director. Hence Zeitlin’s wonderful, surprising nom.

Best Director is really the most up-in-the-air category of any of the Oscars this year. Since Ben Affleck was snubbed famously for “Argo.” We know he’s not winning? But who is? Zeitlin?

And I have this really strong suspicion that, well, a certainty, really, as an Oscarologist of LONNNNNNNG standing…that “Beasts” is going to win something big. It could be Zeitlin. It could be Qu’venzhane Wallis.

Jennifer Lawrence has her youth, her beauty, TWO multi-million dollar franchises “The Hunger Games” and “X-Men” behind her AND she’s got Harvey Weinstein and his super-effective TWC publicity machine behind her. They got surprisingly THREE BAFTAS in places that weren’t expected. Christopher Waltz for Supporting Actor for “Django Unchained” and Quentin Tarantino for Original Screenplay. QT could repeat that feat at the Oscars, since he also was snubbed for Best Director along with Affleck, Tom Hooper and Kathryn Bigelow.

AND he also got David O.Russell Best Adapted Screenplay for “Silver Linings Playbook” at the BAFTAS which nobody expected either.

Of those three wins, I think Tarantino is most likely to score at the Oscars. Mainly because Harvey is pushing Robert De Niro like CRA-ZEE here in the States for the sympathetic Italian father in “Silver Linings.” It’s been DECADES since De Niro won his last Oscar for “Raging Bull.” So I think he’ll score this VERY competitive race for Best Supporting Actor.

And “Silver Linings Playbook” is being advertised to death on TV and all the players, all four of the leads are nominated in all four acting categories and have been omnipresent on your and my TVs.

Qu’venzhane, well, she’s been around, but she’s also in school, and her responsible family wants to keep her there as long as 4th grade is in session.Or is it third?

Also, Jennifer Lawrence SHOULD have won in London. Harvey was working his magic, as I said, but the Weinsteining only went so far. It didn’t stop “Argo” Awards march and Jennifer Lawrence lost to Emmanuelle Riva.

Emmanuelle Riva is beyond brilliant and totally memorable in “Amour,” but I keep hearing that Academy members can’t watcn it on their DVDs. It’s about Octogenarians coping with death, basically, and it’s just too much, too depressing for many.

But they’ve all watched “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and Oscar likes to do something that not everybody else has done in terms of a winner, and Qu’venzhane would certainly be that. She’d make history, too, as the youngest ever Best Actress Oscar winner and also as only the second African-American winner in that category EVER.

As Tom O’Neil is constantly saying “It’s which one is not like the other ones. It’s the Apple in a bag of Oranges.” And Qu’venzhane fits THAT description to a “T”

Last week she was one of the covers of Entertainment Weekly’s Oscar issue and she’s also on Vanity Fair’s Oscar cover banging away on a set of drums!

The Academy is constantly being accused of racism, especially after Viola Davis’s loss to Meryl Streep last year. That was Harvey at work, yet again. I think there’s a verb now. I’ll call it Weinsteining if anybody else hasn’t already.

And Oscar likes little girls.

And they like “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

And y’know something else? Everyone is underestimating her. But any time any one says her name on TV now, or anywhere, they SMILE.

If I was voting this year, she’s the one I’d vote for.

Emmanuelle Riva is frail and didn’t make it to the BAFTAS and is even now using a walker and may not be able to make that lonnnnng flight to LA. So there’s the fear of a no-show.

Qu’venzhane Wallis will make the MOST adorable speech ever.

You can see me interviewing her this past June when she was 8 on my You Tube Channel http://www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow and I ask her about the Oscars and you can see her charming response. She didn’t know what an Oscar was, BTW.

Last time I saw Qu’venzhane was at the Gotham Awards. It was outside at night, as I was leaving and she was SIGNING AUTOGRAPHS! To a bunch of screaming fans! Her mother Qu’lendrea was there and I noted to her that Qu’venzhane had gotten quite tall, since I had seen her last in June. She shooting up fast. And I said to her Mom, “Is she all right?” And she said, “Yes,” and I said “How is she taking all this?” And she said “She’s fine.”

Then she tapped Qu’venzhane firmly on the shoulder and pointed to me. Qu’venzhane remembered me! And smiled and curtsied to me.

I would vote for HER.

Maybe the all-too-serious actor’s branch of AMPAS wouldn’t. But the REST of the 4,500 membership, the infamous all male “steak-eaters” as Anne Thompson calls them just might.I call them the “SWORM”, the straight white old rich men, who are the majority of the Academy. Yeah, I can see THEM voting for Qu’venzhane.

SAG Nominations Shock! Nicole Kidman IN, Ann Dowd Out!

Dear Readers, dear cineastes, so shocked this morning and saddened with the announcement of the SAG nominations! The supposedly venerable Screen Actors’ Guild chose to nominate Nicole Kidman in her rather dirty and low down turn as a Southern-Fried bimbo, in the worse than worst “The Paperboy.” Instead of the great Ann Dowd for “Compliance”!

This, after Time Magazine said, “The Dowd vote is the cool vote” in this week’s Oscar projections!

Nicole Kidman is many things, but cool, right now, is like not one of them. She performs a umnentionable and disgusting act upon Zac Efron, and it’s something that the Academy in all its’ snobbish glory will NOT reward. A similar unbelievably gross moment occurred with Michael Fassbender faced upstage and let it, er, flow. I KNOW that’s what knocked him out of Oscar contention, which shocked many, but not ME! Nicole will follow down that, er, drain.

The SAGs are really getting knocked around this morning with all the media outlets leading with Nicole Kidman and “The Paperboy” story.  It’s everywhere. I don’t think the Academy will follow suit. And Nicole SHAME ON YOU, AN ACADEMY AWARD WINNER doing something like this! That movie was bad enough, but you’ll never live that unmentionable act down. Way to ruin a career, girl.

Also IN was Dame Maggie Smith for “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” in Supporting. Rounding out that category were the expecteds ~ Anne Hathaway in “Les Mis”, Helen Hunt in “The Sessions” and Sally Field in “Lincoln.” Of the four ladies nominated, Smith(2 Oscars), Hunt(One), Field, (two Oscars) and Kidman(One). Only Anne Hathaway does not have an Oscar yet. But she probably will soon.

“Les Miserables”, “Lincoln’. “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Argo” were all chosen as Best Ensemble, which is SAGs way of saying “Best Picture.”

They are NOT wildly accurate Oscar predictors. Esp. not last year when Best Ensemble went to “The Help” and Best Actress for Viola Davis.

They were WAAAAAY off. But they do indicate trends.

Like the absence of “Life of Pi” and also “Zero Dark Thirty” is significant, I think. So that means that “Les Miz”, “Lincoln”, “Argo” and “Silver Linings Playbook” (say THAT fast, three times!) are really the presumptive and eventual Best Picture winners.”Best Exotic…” may very well be nominated for Best Picture, too. But it won’t get Best Director. BTW, there are no Best Director awards from SAG. It’s the Screen ACTORS Guild and as far as Actors are concerned…well, this is one night that’s THEIRS and they get to leave the directors home.

While both NY critics groups, the NYFCC and the NBR went with “Zero Dark Thirty” and the LA Film Critics went with “Amour” NEITHER of these films cracked the top five and ZDT had only one mention Jessica Chastain as Best Actress.

And as I predicted there was also no Emmanuelle Riva nomination for “Amour” and Qu’venshane Wallis was deemed ineligible as was Dwight Henry for “Beasts of the Southern Wild”. So Best Actress included Chastain, supposedly front-runner Jennifer Lawrence for “Silver Linings Playbook”, Helen Mirren for “Hitchcock”(YAY!) and Naomi Watts for “The Impossible” a tsunami movie where she has virtually no dialogue and just grunts and groans and screams for the whole movie. And my lovely Marion Cotillard got in for ANOTHER French language film of “Rust and Bone” and Marion, bonne pour vous!

Bradley Cooper surprised me by landing a Best Actor nomination for SLP, knocking Joaquim Phoenix out of the mix, as I well thought he would be. People haven’t forgotten those remarks he made. As well they shouldn’t. And Sir Anthony Hopkins, who also dissed the Awards Circuit as “disgusting” was also notably left out for “Hitchcock” though Dame Helen Mirren got in. YAY!

I’m reading Steve Rebello’s excellent account of “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of ‘Pysho'” right now. It’s a real page turner! Love it! Sooo glad for Dame Helen.

The rest of the Best Actor category contained Daniel Day Lewis for “Lincoln”, Denzel Washington for “Flight”, Jon Hawkes for “The Sessions” and the magnificent Hugh Jackman for the magnificent “Les Miserables.”

No Supp. Actor nominees from “Les Miz” but they were Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the ONLY nominee for “The Master”, Tommy Lee Jones for “Lincoln”, Alan Arkin for “Argo”, Robert De Niro for “Silver Linings Playbook” and Javier Bardem for “Skyfall” ALLLLL of whom already HAVE at least one Oscar(DeNiro has two). I don’t think there’s ever been a playing field with ONLY previous winners. If Eddie Redmayne knocks out Bardem, Redmayne is soooo stunning in “Les Miz”, then he’d be the newbie but as it stands, it’s all oldies but goodies in this category.

Left out completely were end of year openers “Django Unchained” and “The Hobbit”. Either their late openings did them in or they just simply weren’t liked.

 

Best Supporting Actress- Pre-Festivals, Pre-TIFF

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS 2012 -Pre-TIFF

This category was ceded by many, months ago, to Anne Hathaway’s heartbreaking, shattering performance in the trailer of “Les Miserables.” I have never seen a trailer to have such an impact on the Oscar Race, and so EARLY! Back in June. Or May even…And the film doesn’t come out til Christmas!

“The Dream Lives,” the trailer ends with these titles “This Christmas.” Well, I for one can hardly wait!

Why was Universal releasing this so early?

Well, it was superbly done, brilliantly edited, and plaintively sung by Hathaway. It contains the song “I Dreamed A Dream,” which is arguably one of the most famous songs from “Les Miz” that always pulls heart-strings, if it’s done right.

This is the song that made Susan Boyle an over-night sensation on “Britain’s Got Talent” a few years back. And Musical Comedys are NOT at all a sure-fire, can’t-miss genre these days. No matter how well they may be done. They released this that early to build buzz. And it has succeeded in that respect. And Anne Hathaway also scored as Catwoman in TDKR, too, this year.

Oscar Winner for Best Director for “The King’s Speech” is back again with “Les Miz” and he directs period pieces soooo well…just check out the Multi-Emmy-Award Winning TV series “John Adams.” That was one of the greatest TV series I’ve ever seen, and it could have been as dry as dust, instead it was riveting. And it won its two leads Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney Best Actor and Best Actress Emmys, too. As John and Abigail Adams respectively.

And Laura is back in the Best Actress hunt again this year. Her FOURTH nomination, if she gets one for “Hyde Park on the Hudson” which I already discussed in the previous post just below this one.

Which is to say that Hooper’s actors win awards, see Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech.”

Anne Hathaway’s part in “Les Miz” is the doomed prostitute Fantine, which also won Patti LuPone an Olivier Award, when she played that part in the original London production. So it’s an awards-magnet role. And Hathaway totally aces it in the trailer’s Oscar-y moment par excellence when she, sobbing and dirty, gets all her real hair cut off.  It’s a horrifying, but award-worthy moment. The song is MUCH longer than that,too And there is much more to her role in “Les Miz” although she does die early on.  But who’s to say if they might run her as Best Actress instead of Supporting?

They might. But then again the Academy’s Actor’s Branch voters are the ones who ultimately decide which category an actress, or an actor, is going to be in. The Studios and distributors can campaign all they want…but it’s Hathaway’s peers who will decide where to put her.

The many For Your Consideration ads are run by the Studios as a means of clue-ing the Actor’s Branch especially for who goes where.  They decided for instance that Kate Winslet should be considered for Best Actress for “The Reader” when no less an Oscar personage than Harvey Weinstein was running her as Supporting for that film. Which she did eventually win a Golden Globe for. And also, for Best Actress that year for “Revolutionary Road.” Her “I got TWO!” picture with a Golden Globe in each hand, flashed around the world.

I think this instance shows that the Academy doesn’t ALWAYS do as Harvey tells them.Or suggests to them, I should say.

Opposite Hathaway, it’s looking like Harvey’s main gal this season is going to be Amy Adams for “The Master”, but evidently some already say the part is too small, only three scenes.

Will Qu’venzhane Wallis the 8 year old in “Beasts of the Southern Wild”  get run in Supporting, instead of lead, where she belongs? However, the Academy is notoriously not partial to putting child actors in the lead category. Look what they did with that girl with the braids from “True Grit.” She ended up in Supporting, though she arguably, also had the lead female role in the Coen Bros. western. What was her name anyway? I’ve completely forgotten! Hallie something? That nomination was the beginning and end of her career.

There’s also the great female Brits in the runaway smash of the Indies this year “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” It boasts THREE great performances, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton. Again Dame Judi is the lead here, but again, Fox Searchlight has got her down for Supporting, where she really shouldn’t be. The Academy could put her in lead, if they so deem fit…As I said in the last post, Best Actress is once again Back Up For Grabs this year…

Fox Searchlight has its’ hands full this year! Should Judi Dench go lead? Should Qu’venszhane? Decisions! Decisions!

And then there’s Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal in “Won’t Back Down”, another Indie. But who is lead and who is Supporting? I don’t think that film is even at Toronto. Which says something.

And though after last year’s debacle with Davis predicted to win all over the place, she lost to Meryl Streep. The Academy was again accused of racism. And it is. Although they did give the Best Supporting Actress Oscar to Octavia Spenser for the controversial “The Help.” Could they try to make it up to her with ANOTHER nomination? If they did, she would then be the first African-American actress to get the most Oscar nominations ever. A total of three.

Or is “Don’t Back Down” even Oscar worthy? We don’t know yet. But its lack of Festival presence says something, I think.

To go back to “Hyde Park on Hudson” there are two British Olivias in Supporting roles. Olivia Williams as Eleanor Rossevelt and Olivia Coleman as the Queen of England, who is visiting the Roosevelts at Hyde Park, with her husband the stuttering King Edward VII.

AND there’s the Oscar perennial Bridesmaid multiple-timed nominee, Annette Bening playing against type as a gambling-obsessed Mom of Kristen Wiig in “Imogene.”  You can never count Bening out.

But judging by the competition she’s up against, IMHO, this category is Anne Hathaway’s to lose.

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not Best Picture.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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