a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

“Take That, Oscar!” Who’s on the front page of the NYPost? BEN AFFLECK!

Yes, it’s the Day After the Golden Globes and everything has quieted down tremendously in Oscarland. And who is on the FRONT PAGE of the NEW YORK POST? A newspaper that it can be said NEVER mentions the word OSCAR in its’ headlines, esp. with more than a month and a half to go? Why it’s BEN AFFLECK!?! Boldly holding his TWO Golden Globes!

He’s the hero of The Hour! He’s so hot, he’s even selling NEWSPAPERS! And suddenly has the heart of Hollywood on his side. For, of all things, being BUMPED out of the Best Director category by an Austrian auteur Michael Haneke and/or millennial first-timer Ben Zeitlin.

I don’t know WHO is going to win Best Director now, but really who cares?

I mean, isn’t it usually Best Actress or Best Picture or Best Actor, or if you’re gay, Best Supporting Actress, that takes the cake in terms of Oscar ink?

But HOLT ON! This year it’s BEST DIRECTOR that is getting all the attention! I mean, article after article about Ben Affleck AND Kathryn Bigelow being snubbed! With Ms. Bigelow, the reasons are all too clear. All the film’s controversial elements have descended upon HER. What’s the result of HER snub?

Kathryn Bigelow’s film “Zero Dark Thirty” is no #1 at the Box-Office. Is this the price of a Best Director snub? It suddenly seems like A BEST DIRECTING SNUB is the smartest Oscar Accessory to have right now.

Best Director was formerly only a category that Oscar wonks could get excited about. Usually, historically, it’s just been a tag-along award in the Public’s Eye, IMHO, because it almost always since I was a child (yes, I prognosticated for my little brother) went hand in hand with Best Picture. Ho-hum.

But I tell ya, “Argo”s got all the Oscar mojo in the world right now. Warner Brothers is re-releasing it and it will clean up all over again. And “Argo” now has THE STORY. The biggest most important, most elusive element in winning the Golden Guy.

Like for instance, Anne Hathaway this year has THE STORY in Supporting Actress. Her mother was the UNDERSTUDY for Fantine on the first National Tour of “Les Miz” You can’t top that. She’s a second generation Fantine. Done.

And now Ben Affleck and “Argo” has THE STORY. Oscar snub-bee par excellence, the voters will rally around this egregious error, and vote for “Argo” all over the place, but especially, for Best Picture, well, just BECAUSE, he was snubbed!!! I’m not kidding! They think like that. Or rather they FEEL like that. Oscar voters notoriously vote with their hearts, not their heads. It’s not an intellectual choice. And everybody loved “Argo” anyway. It was always a consensus choice since it opened at Toronto in Sept.

And they all secretly, or not so secretly, hate directors anyway, and this is their way of getting back at that pesky, idiosyncratic(I’m being kind) Director’s Branch.

The New York Post said it all “TAKE THAT, OSCAR!”

And my idol Liz Smith has said it was going to be “Argo” all the time. And what the director’s branch did was turn AMPAS into an ARMY of JEFF WELLS’. Did I say this already? But it bears repeating.

At http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com Jeff Wells, who has been a memorable guest on my TV show at the Toronto Film Festival, yes, and talking about “Argo”too!

Yes, you can see it here http://www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow, then search for “Jeff Wells” in the search box…

Jeff Wells has been “Anything BUT ‘Lincoln'” since, it seems forever. He doesn’t bear his grudges lightly, and he HATES Stephen Spielberg.

I don’t think “Lincoln” with its’ 11 nominations is going to win anywhere. It might get totally shut out, a la “The Color Purple”. Sorry if I’m repeating myself, but history does, ya know, repeat itself, too. 11 Nominations for a Spielberg “breakthrough” film and ZEE-ROW wins.

Stephen Spielberg didn’t look too happy last night at the Golden Globes. And this is exactly what happened at the Broadcast Film Critics only just on THURSDAY.
Only Daniel Day-Lewis won. No. I take that back. Tony Kusher won, too, but they gave him Best Screenplay DURING A COMMERCIAL! No that is also saying something. Probably more about what that stupid TV station the BFCA aligned with this year. Talk about lowering the level.

And no, I’m not a member.

What all this BEN-love has done though is push Hugh Jackman off the front-and-center of the Golden Globes coverage. The headlines should be screaming “Les Miserables win the most Golden Globes!” But no, it’s all about Ben winning TWO!

Yes, Ben Affleck has got the Oscar mojo going on. And Spielberg probably alienated all the members of the Academy who voted for “The Blind Side” – well, SOMEbody did! It even got a Best Picture nomination and of course won for the acting-challenged Sandra Bullock. All those members, let’s call them, well, Republicans, did NOT enjoy seeing President Bill Clinton turn up to present the Golden Globe clips of “Lincoln.”

AMPAS voters see that as taking an unfair advantage. ESPECIALLY if they are Republicans and that whole Bill Clinton moment last night reminded me of the George Clooney/Viola Davis Oscar Issue cover of EW last year. Remember THAT?

P.S. neither of them won. It was Jean DuJardin and Meryl Streep.

And “Argo”s win at the Globes last night also reminded Oscar voters that yes, they can kill two birds with one stone and if they vote for “Argo” they get George Clooney up onstage as well as Ben, since he was one of the film’s producers, and they get to FINALLY give Gorgeous George that second Oscar he’s been drooling over for YEARS now, since “Syrianna.” Which since it was Supporting, just wasn’t enough.

The OTHER story that could get rolling is the “David v. Goliath” scenario of “Silver Linings Playbook” v. “Lincoln” or Harvey v. Stephen AGAIN OR “Shakespeare in Love” v. “Saving Private Ryan.”

And you KNOW Harvey Weinstein is gonna get that one going big time.

And whither for that matter was TWC last night? Well their efforts. their magical implied powers yielded them TWO Golden Globes for “Django Unchained” for Quentin Tarantino(screenplay) and Christophe Waltz(Best Supp. Actor) for what a few weeks ago was a leading role. But Waltz was really, really good in that movie and made it watchable and made it all make sense, and spoiler alert! Gets to die violently, too. But he JUST WON an Oscar two years ago, but since it’s Harvey’s only Oscar shot with “Django”s actors, he may just put all his efforts into, except wait!

He’s got TWO other nominees in the category, too, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, for the fading “Master” and for the very lively “Silver Linings Playbook” Robert DeNiro insulted the HFPA two years ago when he got a Lifetime Achievement Award, and so he wasn’t nominated for “SLP” this year, but he IS for the Oscar.

So Harvey ended up with just the situation he didn’t want THREE in a category. It’s almost like “Which one will HARVEY pick?” Hmmmm…

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Down to the Wire! Best Actress Predictions!

Tomorrow morning it will all be over, but the shouting. Yes,dear readers, dear cineastes, tomorrow at the crack of dawn in L.A. and at 8:30pm EST, the Oscar Nominations for 2012 will be announced and all will be revealed and Phase One, as it’s known of the Oscar Campaign will be over.

This has been my busiest Oscar season ever with helping Ann Dowd’s campaign as much as I have been able. Culminating last night in her win for Best Supporting Actress at the National Board of Review Awards ceremony. More, I’m sure, on that later.

But now on to what has become the thorniest category ever this year ~ Best Actress.

To echo all and sundry, there are two locks ~ Vanity Fair cover girl Jennifer Lawrence for the manic-depressive comedy “Silver Linings Playbook” and Jessica Chastain for the taut,controversial Osama Bin Laden hunt-thriller “Zero Dark Thirty.”

In the past two days, the lovely Jessica has received her first, major, best actress award from the New York Critics Circle on Monday night, then last night she got her National Board of Review Award.

Both those awards are announced beforehand and handed out at the aforementioned ceremonies. No nominees at either. Just winners. Plane and simple.

Now, the OTHER three slots for Best Actress are really fraught with possible suprises and booby traps. (Pun) Like for instance, WILL they REALLY nominate a six-year- old? I don’t think so.

So Qu’venshane Wallis is not showing up here, as charming and disarming as she is in person and on-screen in “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

As I’ve been saying all along, as much as I love French culture and everything French, I don’t think the Academy is going to nominate TWO French actresses for Acting in their own language!

That would be Marion Cotillard in “Rust and Bone,” and 86-year-old Emmanuelle Riva in “Amour.” I think, to be brutally honest, that the young, cute one, Marion, gets in. And Emmanuelle Riva, who faces death in the most devastating screen portrayal, perhaps ever, will not.

I’m hearing that Academy types just aren’t watching “Amour”, and don’t like it when they see it. It’s a critics darling to be sure, but since the Academy is all about the same age as the two characters depicted in this film, I don’t think they are going to watch OR nominate it. They’ll leave it to the Foreign Language Committee to determine whether this Austrian/French co-production is in, or more likely out. No matter how much critical accolades it has won. One has to keep repeating the mantra ~”There are NO CRITICS in the Academy!” And it’s true. Nary a one.

So now we have three beauties, Jennifer, Jessica and Marion. So who are the other two? I’m thinking Helen Mirren, who got a SAG nod as well as just landing a BAFTA nomination,too this morning for her rousing, bracing portrayal of a real life Hollywood icon Lady Alma Hitchcock, Sir Alfred’s uber-talented wife, in “Hitchcock”, is going to get in. And of course, she’s a former winner, too, for Best Actress, for “The Queen.” But then so is Marion! For “La Vie En Rose.”

And the last place is a toss-up I feel between two talented ladies in films that might not have been seen much yet. Naomi Watts, in the tsunami horror film “The Impossible” and Rachel Weisz for the British drama “The Deep Blue Sea.”

I’m going to plunk for Rachel, since although she really already has an Oscar,like both Helen Mirren AND Maid Marion, they like her, they really like her.And the Oscars are nothing if not repetivive and clannish in their thinking and awarding. Or re-rewarding.

But Rachel IS extraordinary in “Deep Blue Sea.”

And Naomi, poor thing,is an Australia, and is someone who gets overlooked over and over, time and time again. And the same thing may happen this year.

And some of the snobby Actor’s Branch may feel that her portrait of a mother lost and injured by the tsunami that hit the beaches of Southeast Asia a few years back, is more screaming and stunt work, than a performance.

Whereas Rachel, who BEGINS “Deep Blue Sea”in classic Oscar fashion,by trying to kill herself via a gas heater, right after WWII, is more typically, the Academy’s cup of British Tea. And also, though Naomi got overlooked by the BAFTAs today.
So did Rachel, so it’s a toss up. But I’m picking Rachel, thinking that the BAFTA membership now is circling about 300 members of the Academy, too.

Also, Rachel, like fellow Nominee Jennifer Lawrence who raked in over $600 million dollars for “The Hunger Games” this year, Rachel showed her action heroine chops for real in the hit “The Bourne Legacy.” Anne Hathaway scored this double whammy too, this year with the blockbuster “The Dark Knight Rises,” as well as cornering what looks like a sure win for Best Supp. Actress with “Les Miserables.” The Academy seems to be going for gals who can act, but also kick butt.And rake in millions at the Box-Office.

And in conclusion, It could also shock of shocks be the forgotten Keira Knightley in devisive masterpiece “Anna Karenina.”

So dear readers, dear cineastes, I see ~

Jennifer Lawrence
Jessica Chastain
Marion Cotillard
Helen Mirren
Rachel Weisz

We’ll know VERY soon, won’t we? And it will all look very, very different, won’t it?
Phase Two is NOT the same thing as Phase one.

DGA Nominations! Most Important Predictor Nominations of All!

Here there are – Thanks to Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone at http://www.awardsdaily.com

Ben Affleck – “Argo”
Tom Hooper – “Les Miserables”
Kathryn Bigelow – “Zero Dark Thirty”
Ang Li – “Life of Pi”
Steven Spielberg – “Lincoln”

The Director’s Guild are the most accurate and also most important of all the precursor awards nominations. They match up with the Oscar nominations usually five for five, or at the very least four for five.

Since the ballots voting for the Oscars were all due in on Friday, and nothing received late after the cut-off date will be considered, and since this is the first year that the voting closed BEFORE the DGA noms were announced, we have a unique situation. But maybe not THAT unique, since it is pretty assured that the Oscar noms are gonna go to these guys.

David O. Russell’s controversial hot-head reputation is still following him, I think. And this means “Silver Linings Playbook” a comedy, is not going to win Best Picture.

Also this is the first time in at least three years or more, even, that the Weinstein Co. does not have a pony in this derby as Tom O’Neil would say.I’m sure Tom O. has A LOT to say about this at http://www.goldderby.com

And since O.Russell did also NOT get a Golden Globe nomination he’s pretty much out on his ass.

Also, replacing Quentin Tarantino for “Django Unchained” is “Les Miserables” wunderkind Tom Hooper. I thought the uber-violent “Django” wouldn’t resonate with Academy types, but since this is NOT the Academy, but a separate voting body, the Director’s Guild, you can bet that if THEY with their much larger membership didn’t like it, the Academy won’t either.

This snub might hurt the three purported Best Supporting Actors from “Django” Leonardo DiCaprio, Christophe Waltz(who has an Oscar already) and Samuel L.Jackson.

This also reduces “Silver Linings Playbook” in other categories, too, perhaps. Only Jennifer Lawrence is a lock. In Best Actress.

This also bodes well, very well for “Les Miserables”. The DGA a small, very snobby group, to be sure, like, REALLY likes what recent DGA winner Tom Hooper did with the radical re-thinking of the musical numbers in “Les Miz.” Me? I’ve seen it FOUR times! And maybe means that for instance, in the Supporting Actor category, Eddie Redmayne may get in and the “Django” guyz remaine chained.

Quentin Tarantino supposed respect in Hwood, does not extend to the Director’s Guild. Wait a minute! Does he even belong to it

And all the controversy surrounding “Zero Dark Thirty” did not hurt Ms. Bigelow one bit. Whereas the “Django” controversy did.

And congrats to Tom Hooper! He named me the Oscar Messenger after all! This is a big step forward for “Les Miz”! Yay!

Producers Guild Award Nominees A DAY EARLY!

With the Oscars themselves experiencing technical difficulties with their new on-line voting system, the Producers Guild, or the PGA, decided to one-up them and announced their nominees a DAY EARLY! Everyone wants to be first!

Thanks to Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone at http://www.awardsdaily.com for this comprehensive list ~
PRODUCERS GUILD NOMINATIONS

Argo” (Warner Bros.)
Producers: Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Grant Heslov

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Producers: Michael Gottwald, Dan Janvey, Josh Penn

“Django Unchained” (The Weinstein Company)
Producers: Reginald Hudlin, Pilar Savone, Stacey Sher

“Les Misérables”
(Universal Pictures)
Producers: Tim Bevan & Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Cameron Mackintosh

Life of Pi” (Fox 2000 Pictures)
Producers: Ang Lee, Gil Netter, David Womark

“Lincoln” (Touchstone Pictures)
Producers: Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg

“Moonrise Kingdom” (Focus Features)
Producers: Wes Anderson & Scott Rudin, Jeremy Dawson, Steven Rales

Silver Linings Playbook” (The Weinstein Company)
Producers: Bruce Cohen, Donna Gigliotti, Jonathan Gordon

“Skyfall” (Columbia Pictures)
Producers: Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson

Zero Dark Thirty” (Columbia Pictures)
Producers: Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Megan Ellison

Not really shocked by any of these nominations except to note the “Beasts of the Southern Wild” got in (YAY!) and “Moonrise Kingdom” did, too! (Boo)

However “Skyfall” too was a bit of surprise. But I knew that “The Dark Knight Rises”, “The Avengers” and “The Master” as well as “Amour” were NEVER going to make it in.”Fllght” not getting in was also a surprise. And this could also indicate the Denzel Washington, the star of “Flight” could also be left at the Oscar altar this year.

“Amour” is NOT liked as much by the Industry types, as I’ve been saying for MONTHS, as opposed to critics who are putting it at the top of their lists. AND it’s in French. AND it’s a downer about D.E.A.T.H. It MAY get nominated for Best Foreign Film from Austria, but it could even get shut out there. It’s on the short list.

“The Master”s not making this list is no surprise to me. The movie is NOT LIKED. AND it didn’t make any money. This also may eliminate two if not all three of its’ major actors. Which would mean no Joaquim(Dirty Carrot) Phoenix, Amy(she’s been nominated enough already, 3x in this category, and they know she won’t win this year either)Adams for a pallid perfomance as Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s strange, always-pregnant wife. And yes, even maybe the great PSH himself might miss out on a nod for Best Supp. Actor. He’s the only one who’s still got a little life in his Oscar dance now, I think.

This helps ALLLLL the other films. And yes, with this early move the PGA IS trying to influence Oscar voters, who still haven’t voted.

And it especially helps, on the cusp of being eliminated “Beasts of the Southern Wild” YAY!

I See “Hitchcock” for the THIRD Time! Helen Mirren for Best Actress!

Seeing the wonderful “Hitchcock” again for the THIRD time, in light of the recent Golden Globe & SAG nominations, where Dame Helen Mirren as Alma Reville, Hitchcock’s late unsung wife, delighted me once again, and in ways I didn’t expect.

The Sat.nite NYC audience was very appreciative and laughed more than at the other two very packed press screenings I saw it at previously. And THIS time it also again got applause at the end! And this from the paying public!?

Something really good is going on here that maybe most critics have overlooked. It PLEASES  audiences, just as Hitchcock’s films did. The audience was always in the fore-front of Hitchcock’s mind.

I was enchanted all over again and was more impressed than ever with Helen Mirren’s marvelously layered, intelligent portrayal as Hitchcock’s real life wife, who was his greatest and until now unknown collaborator. Editor, writer, wife, critic, she gave Hitchcock her all and never asked for any credit and “didn’t want any” to quote director Sascha Gervasi.

You can see my interview with him lower in this blog, and also at www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow bien sur.

Mirren really dominated the film tonight in a way I hadn’t noticed her doing before. Before it had seem like a balanced duet between these two great actors. But tonight it struck me for the first time as Alma’s film. She seems the dominant one in the relationship, oddly, and not him. At home, he seems if not hen-pecked, then strangely passive, or submissive, next to Mirren’s fiery red-headed Alma.

Also since I saw “Hitchcock” last I read the Steve Rubello book it’s based on “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Pyscho.” And interestingly, there’s one, whole chapter on Ed Gein, the opening chapter of the book. And not ONE on Alma! Director Gervasi and his screenwriter really did take it upon themselves to make this Alma’s story, Her Time To Shine, since even Rubello dismisses or overlooks her in his book. Just as she always has been heretofore.

And seeing it tonight with a paying audience of civilian movie-goers, I came away more sure than ever that Dame Helen Mirren was going to get yet ANOTHER Oscar nomination for playing Alma Hitchcock. And the Golden Globes and the SAGs agree with me.

Also in Mirren’s favor is that fact that she is playing a REAL PERSON. A woman, who, historically, has been sinfully overlooked. And so not only is Mirren delivering a powerhouse performance on all levels and looking fabulous at nearly 70 and often in a bathing suit, doing so,she is reclaiming this lost woman’s story, and it’s a great and important one, for the ages. And what an original screen female character Alma Reville Hitchcock is!

Hitchock complains on the imaginary psychiatirist couch to his evil angel, the ghost of Mass Murderer Ed Gein, that he never got an Oscar, and well, I think this year the Academy is going to correct that by giving his smart, stylish, unheralded wife an Oscar nomination. A posthumous recognition, but recognition still.

Helen Mirren also has the advantage in that Alma Reville Hitchcock is a totally unknown personality to us. We know she had a posh British accent, but we don’t know how she walked, talked or “used her hands” as Dame Helen put it in an interview. So Mirren was free to create this most original character of this most original woman out of whole cloth. And we accept and applaud the authority and precision with which she protrays her.

And you know the Oscars, they’ve got to have a Dame somewhere at the Oscars. And Dame Maggie Smith and Dame Judi Dench are also in the mix. But of the three Dame Heleln’s is the most vivid performance.

But strangely, Sir Anthony Hopkins, however, was left out of both the important precursor nominations the GG and the SAGS. What to make of that? Well, it’s a very crowded Best Actor race this year. But his performance is so touching and multi-faceted,acting under what looks like MOUNTAINS of latex make-up and the fattest of fat suits, that the Academy may reward him, too, with a nomination.

The Best Actress race is wide open, still, with Naomi Watts perhaps muddying the waters with “The Impossible.” Keira Knightley’s nomination should be called the Impossible, which is a shame. For the controversial, deconstructed “Anna Karenina.”

The only locks are still the $400 million dollar girl Jennifer Lawrence who has the “Hunger Games” in her favor, although it is the “Silver Linings Playbook” that she is likely to be nominated for, and Jessica Chastain for her stoic CIA operative in “Zero Dark Thirty”. Marion Cotillard is looking pretty solid, still, as I’ve said all along since I saw at TIFF ’12, her marvelous, miraculous performances as double amputee in “Rust and Bone” and then there’s Rachel Weisz, coming up on the outside in a small British Indie “Deep Blue Sea,” which I saw at TIFF’11.

Weisz already has an Oscar (For “The Constant Gardener”), and so do Cotillard and Mirren, for “La Vie En Rose” and “The Queen” respectively. But I think it’s now ~

1. Jennifer Lawrence

2. Jessica Chastain

3. Marion Cotillard

4. Helen Mirren

5. Rachel Weisz

“The Impossible” is not doing well in this, its’ Opening Weekend, and if that continues, poor Naomi Watts will be a wash as well, in this suddenly contentious category.

“Zero Dark Thirty”, Jessica Chastain & Ann Dowd Win National Board of Review!

It’s been one of the most intense Oscar Weeks(unofficially of course) I’ve ever experienced in that alllll most all of the major films hit me this past week AND Ann Dowd who was just a guest on my show (see below) won Best Supporting Actress from the National Board of Review! Phew! WHAT A WEEK!

And it was only last Monday that the New York Film Critics announced, and so having that to deal with ,and then seeing “Les Miserables,” which I went to with Ann Dowd(!?!), and then attending “The Hobbit” press conference the next morning at the Wal-dwarf Astoria, and then Ann  winning the National Board Award, while I was out seeing “Zero Dark Thirty”, so I didn’t find out til that evening, and then seeing the new “Hobbit” in 48 fps(frames per second) ALL IN ONE WEEK!!! Or was that just three days?!?WOWOW!!!

So you can see why I haven’t posted anything, dear cineastes, dear readers, until now. One has to pause sometimes, for breath, for clarity to sink in, and with so much happening, and my 25th Anniversary party of being on the air continuously since Dec.7, 1988, well….it was all just too much to absorb. Let alone have a quiet moment to sit down and write about it…

Yes, dear readers, sometimes you do have to DO THE WORK! And alllll these movies are nearly three hours!

And then, Ann, who was my “Les Miz” date, winning this INCREDIBLY important award, the next day!!!

Well, it’s all been overwhelming!!!

And if I’M overwhelmed, you can only imagine how Ann Dowd is feeling with all this excitement happening to her.”Over the moon,” is how she herself described it to me. “I’m beside myself.”

The National Board of Review win for her in Best Supporting Actress(even though she’s the lead) in “Compliance” means the world for her and her career. It really was a life-changing moment. And she’ll literally will never be unknown again.

The NBR has catapulted her into the middle of the Oscar Conversation now. EVERYBODY was writing about and absorbing the NYFCC and the NBR wins and now they all have to mention Ann and take her one-woman Oscar campaign VERY, VERY seriously. I’ve helped as best I can. I feel like I’ve gone into the Ann Dowd business, but I love helping her, and we’ve become friends. And no, I didn’t know her before the Opening Night of “Compliance” in New York.

I aired her great interview on “The Stephen Holt Show” twice, this past Friday and the Friday before. www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow and was happy to do so. I hope I am conveying the excitement that being INSIDE the Oscar Race and really dealing with it on a day to day basis is like to you, my dear readers, dear cineastes all.

Both the NYFCC and the NBR are New York based awards, and since they announce first they give clarity to the season, in very concrete ways. And BOTH groups gave Best Picture and Best Director to the movie I was seeing when the NBR was announced “Zero Dark Thirty”. And the NBR gave Jessica Chastain Best Actress, too.I know Jessica, too, since she was a student at Juilliard about 7 years ago.

So one thing that happened with these two major award announcements is that now “Zero Dark Thirty” a film that was not seen or screened until RIGHT NOW is now the purported front-runner. And so is Kathryn Bigelow for Best Director.

I loved “The Hurt Locker,” for the record, Ms. Bigelow’s last film and was thrilled when it won the Oscar for Best Picture, despite having a low box-office, and of course, it gave her the honor of being the first woman to ever win an Oscar for Best Director.

But “Zero Dark Thirty” is a MUCH more difficult film to sit through.

It’s incredibly shocking, at the beginning, and then for what seems like two hours, but probably more like an hour and a half, it settles down into being a VERY boring procedural on just how this single-minded woman named Maya(fictional name, but a real person)played by Jessica Chastain, goes about doggedly pursuing Osama Bin Laden.

It’s over-long and it’s BOR-RING, but then when the incredibly exciting ending appears FINALLY, the film takes off into the stratosphere of excitement.

But there’s that VERY boring middle section that takes up half the film. I wonder, I really wonder, if audiences are going to sit through that en masse. The pay-off is big at the end. But this impresses me as being a critics movie more than an audience movie. And I’m frankly shocked, SHOCKED that it won so many awards this week.

It does also make “Argo” seem like a cartoon, I’m sorry to say. “ZDT” is much more serious-minded and nowhere near as entertaining as “Argo” is. “Argo” seems to have dropped off everyone’s radar. It will be interesting to see if the LA Film Critics annoint “Zero Dark Thirty” AGAIN when they announce later today.

This is reminding me of “The Social Network” all over again. Which won all the critics awards and then “The King’s Speech” turned everything around and won all the REAL awards, if any awards are realer than the others. Well, in terms of Oscar, the DGA, the PGA, SAG and even the Golden Globes are all much more clearer as Oscar precursors that the two New York critics groups that I’m writing about right now.

Me? I LOVED “Les Miserables” and what an incredible experience seeing it with Ann Dowd! We both sat there crying our eyes out for what seemed like, again, three hours. I don’t think I’ve ever been that deeply moved by a movie, since well, “The King’s Speech” actually, which “Les Miserables” reminded me of. And why? Well they were both directed by the brilliant Tom Hooper.

“Les Miz” I could go on and on, but let me just say that it’s now my Best Film of the Year and one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen and should garner more Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Director, Actor(Hugh Jackman), Best Supp. Actor(Eddie Redmayne), Best Supp. Actress(Anne Hathaway) and on and on and on, than maybe any other film in Academy history. It’s this year’s “King’s Speech” And could turn everything around on “Zero Dark Thirty” the way “The King’s Speech” did on “The Social Network.” But more on all this SOON. Very SOON!

Rachel Weisz Wins Best Actress in Surprise Vote from the NYFCC!

There were several BIG surprises when the New York Film Critics Circle, after five reportedly contentious hours of voting, announced their winners.

Biggest among them was the shockeroo of Matthew McConaughey winning Best Supporting Actor for “Bernie” and “Magic Mike”!?!

When I saw that stat come up I could NOT take the rest of their voting seriously. First of all, both films are comedies, and second MMcC. was not THAT good in either.

I saw “Bernie” recently on a DVD screener I was sent and his performance as the Sheriff of the town in question barely registered with me. It was adequate. Just barely. And speaking of barely!

“Magic Mike”!?!? Are they kidding?!?!

That film was barely watchable and NOT because it was about male strippers…I think they did the subject a disservice. If that’s even possible.

They were all gorgeous to look at, natch, but boy! When they started to ACT!?! And that includes YOU Mr.McC! Oy vay! Bad acting at that magnitude = boredom. This film that I really thought I was the target audience for,  put me to sleep.

And it wasn’t the stripping. It was the rest of the film. And, oh yeah, male strippers are all straight. I don’t think so.

Dull, dull, duh….

However Rachel Weisz beating out the touted “front-runners” Jennifer Lawrence of “Silver Linings Playbook” and Jessica Chastain of “Zero Dark Thirty.” I REALLY thought that they were either of them going to take this, but o no, they dinn’t. So much for punditry. I don’t think J. Law is going to get ANY of these critics prizes coming up. I don’t think she’ll get the LA Film Critics and don’t think the National Board of Review will go with her, either. I wouldn’t be surprised if Marion Cotillard or Emmnuelle Riva turned up in either race.

And Rachel Weisz’ performance was superb. I loved that movie “The Deep Blue Sea” and I loved her in it. I saw it at Toronto TWO years ago! And interviewed rising co-star Tom Hiddleston, and the wonderful director Terence Davies. I even got to connect with Terence AGAIN in NYC. But neither time I did I to talk to the magnificent Rachel Weisz.

I really look forward to connecting with this super-smart Oscar winner for “The Constant Gardener” some day.  I know it seems to you all that I’ve interviewed EVERYBODY in show business at this point, as my TV show nears its’ 25th year…Yes, it’s true…I can’t believe it myself…*sigh*

But I wonder if this will catapult her into the actual Oscar Bactress race itself, though…The Hollywood Reporter wisely included her in their Best Actress Roundtable, and Scott Feinberg had her in his “A Few Minutes with Feinberg” in the Race section of http://www.thehollywoodreporter.com. He also had Matthew McC. come to think of it…

I can’t believe I’m writing about Rachel Weisz and Matthew McConaughey in the same sentence!

Next up the National Board of Review. They’re choices are always….well, gay-er than springtime, as is their membership. So I look forward to that. If Matthew McConaughey wins THERE, TOO! Uh-OH!

Matthew McConaughey over Phillip Seymour Hoffman?!? I just don’t believe it.

ANOTHER surprise was their awarding Katherine Bigelow best director for “Zero Dark Thirty.” Which won the Top Honor, Best Picture, and also Best Cinematography, too. I see that in two days. I see “Les Miserables” FINALLY tomorrow! Can’t wait!

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