a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Taren Edgerton tries to be Elton John in “Rocketman”(Left) while Rami Malek succeeded to be Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody” and won an Oscar

You can’t help but compare “Rocketman” this year’s Elton John biopic to last year’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” which won newcomer Rami Malek a Best Actor Oscar for playing the late Freddie Mercury. Newcomer Taren Egerton, who plays (and sings in his own voice) Elton John MIGHT get an Oscar nomination for his yeoman effort in “Rocketman,” but he won’t win. It’s close, but no cigar. Egerton turns himself inside/out for this, his break out part. Alas, there doesn’t seem to be much inside once he does that, and I’m so sure the real Elton John was/is more complex and interesting than this self-produced film makes him. Yes, Elton John produced this film, too.

It’s ALMOST the same story as “Bohemian”, and it covers roughly the same period, the ’70s British glam/rock scene, and focuses on a self-destructive gay pop icon. Similar, barely a millimeter apart, the two films are also directed by the same director Dexter Fletcher. I felt like I was watching the same film all over again.

Except that with “Bohemian Rhapsody” I was on was on the edge of my seat. Oscar Winner Rami Malek was raw, risky, heart-stopping, almost frightening as the wild and willful Mercury. And Egerton is comfortably middle of the road and I was in the middle of my seat, watching it. Not the edge.

Egerton is also unbelievably buff, though the Elton John constantly references how fat he is and what a crippling, life-long problem it was for him. Egerton’s hot bod is totally swoon-worthy (see below) He’s got a big, chunky butt and thick, rather magnificent thighs, which he is constantly sticking in the camera front and center. He’s petulant, not frightening, or doomed as Malek’s Mercury was. Mercury dies in the film of AIDS, and his one-night-stand persona totally justifies his demise.

Egerton’s got a strong supporting cast, but they are all flattened to the walls, and under-used. I always loved Jamie Bell in whatever he does. Since the original British “Queer as Folk,” he’s been knocking every performance he gives, out of the ball-park, but here, cast as Elton John’s life-long writing partner, Bernie Taupin, he isn’t allowed to do much except longingly look Elton/Egerton’s way, no matter how outrageously he’s dressing or behaving. Their duet of “Your Song” is the exception, where Bell is momentarily allowed to shine as he half-composes, half-inspires Egerton to write this great pop hit.

Egerton is least convincing in his rehab scenes. Yes, we see the whole film as a flash-back as he relates his drug induced experiences in a circle of a support group in a hospital facility. And he’s at his best in the gay sex scenes, director Dexter has wisely decided to include in THIS film. When a older black musician pushes him up against an alley wall in “Rocketman” and kisses him smack on his virgin lips, Egerton is totally freaked out and believable. I could have done with ten more of them. You don’t get enough of what Egerton really sizzles and excels at, which is kissing and having sex with other men.

The songs, of course, are wonderful, and staged as sort of numbers in a musical comedy would be, IF this was a stage play. “Rocketman,”the afore-mentioned “Your Song,””Tiny Dancer” and many, many others, resonate and please, and almost make up for the fact that everything else about this film is flimsy and forgettable, and as plastic as Elton’s many, many ornate sun-glasses. Bryce Dallas Howard is simply abominable as Elton’s self-centered monster mom.

What IS he thinking? “Hmmm….what did I do WRONG with this movie?”

Rami Malek accepting his Oscar for his performance as Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Rami Malek made history in more ways than one at last night’s Academy Awards. He gave a rousing, impassioned speech emphasizing his ethnicity as “an immigrant, a first generation Egyptian,” thanked everyone he could think of, and then, when the cameras weren’t rolling, and the show cut to a commercial break, he fell off the stage!

Rami Malek falls off the Oscar stage.

He was treated immediately by para-medics. Who knew that a team of them would be standing by at the Oscars, prepared for eventualities like this? And he was deemed fine and released to go backstage to the Press Room, where he was as crisp as a dry martini, clearly shaken, not stirred.

Rami after his tremendous fall from the Oscar stage, back almost immediately in the Press Room.

The press on “Bohemian Rhapsody” was mixed, to say the least, but always laudatory for his galvanic portrayal of Freddie Mercury. “Bomhemian Rhapsody” also won the most Oscars of the night ~ four. It won for Best Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing.

He did the most politic thing imaginable by thanking what was left of the assembled Press Corps in the Press Room for staying to talk to him and to ask the questions they stayed to ask (see You Tube) and that he wouldn’t have gotten his Oscar without their support, and coverage which was true. Abundantly so. But nobody ever thanks us.

He also noted again in his all-too-brief Q&A that he was the first member of his ethnicity to win the Best Actor Oscar.

And he also made a point in both speeches that he was playing a gay character.

It was also a big night for the LBGTQ community, because there was more queer representation among the award-winning Oscar characters than ever before. Olivia Coleman, who won Best Actress in the biggest surprise upset of the night for her daffy, adorable, despotic dyke of a Queen in “The Favorite”, and Mahershala Ali won Best Supporting Actor for playing his gay jazz pianist, Billy Williams in “The Green Book.” Which also won Best Picture.

Olivia Coleman as the mad, bad Queen in “The Favourite”

In fact, all told there was more gay representation than ever before at this year’s Oscar, making it the most gender diverse as well as diverse Oscars in history.

My favorite moment? Rami’s much-deserved win, of course. And I’m also so glad that we only heard about his tumble from the stage later on and that it was not shown as part of the show. I can’t wait to see what Rami does next!

Rami Malek becomes as iconic as Freddie Mercury himself in “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Sometimes a performance comes virtually out of nowhere to seize Oscar by the throat and win him, and all the Academy Voters over, to the point where his awards triumph is undeniable. Such a rare event will occur on Sunday night when young Egyptian/American actor Rami Malek ascends the stage at the Dolby pavilion to accept his first Oscar( yes, I’m sure there will be others later on in his career)for his magnetic portrayal of the late British rock star Freddie Mercury of Queen in “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Rami Malek has already won a slew of awards on his road to the Oscars. He just nabbed Best Actor at BAFTA, following his Golden Globe and SAG, making the young Malek a certifiable lock for the top honor. His performance is one for the ages. He’s just astounding. A man on fire, he never stops moving or compelling and fascinating us. He also almost never stops singing the great QUEEN standards. And guess what? He’s lip-syncing them all. Seamlessly. You can’t tell when Mercury stops and Malek begins, his performance is all consuming. And also consummate.

Malek gives us his quiet, introverted moments as well as his genuine gender confusion about his burgeoning bi-sexuality. Malek does not stint in any way in performing what is surely going to be known as the defining one of his career.

Rami Malek with his Golden Globe Award for Best Actor Drama

Be sure to catch his historic win on Sunday night on ABC-TV. No actor of Middle-Eastern, certainly not of Egyptian heritage, has ever won Best Actor at the Oscars before. This year will be the most diverse Academy Awards yet, I predict.

Love Rachel Weisz! Always have. She’s one of the best actresses we have today and yet she’s never won a BAFTA on her home turf of Great Britain. But she did tonight for “The Favourite” for Best Supporting Actress.

Oscar Nominee Rachel Weisz as the dastardly delicious villainess in “The Favourite”

Will she prevail at the Oscars in this very much up-in-the-air category? She’s already won one, again in the Supporting Actress category for “The Constant Gardener” way back when at the beginning of her film career.

She was a slam dunk that year and didn’t really that year and didn’t have much competition, but she does this year from home town favorite Regina King in “If Beale Street Could Talk.” An African-American actress who was unknown to me until she got this nomination, King has gone on to win both the Golden Globe and the Critics Choice Award. However, she was not nominated for the SAG Award which wonderful Emily Blunt won in a surprise(But not to me) for “The Quiet Place.” King was also not nominated for the BAFTA and tonight Weisz staked her formidable claim for this year’s Supporting Actress trophy.

Very conscious of diversity, King is not the slam dunk she seems because also in this category this year is Mexican actress Marina de Tavira for the film that everyone is tauting as the presumptive Best Picture Winner Alphonso Cuaron’s masterwork “Roma.” She gives a wrenching performance as the distraught, abandoned doctor’s wife, whom Jalitzia Apericio’s nanny, Cleo, is working for. She acts in Spanish AND English and is one of Mexico’s most esteemed and successful actresses. Unlike Jalitza, whose first film this is.

Mexican actress and Oscar Nominee Marina De Tavira of “Roma”

Two Oscar Nominees of “Roma” Jalitzia Apericio and Marina De Tavira

Academy Voters, who have their ballots in their hot little hands right now might just want to give the hotter-than-hot “Roma” an Acting Award, or two, to go with all the accolades they are going to be throwing at Cuaron’s great film. Which might very well help unknowns like Marina De Tavira and even Jaliztia Apericio, too.

Oscars and Marina de Tavira

Poor Emily Blunt! This, I imagine, is how she looked this morning as the list of the Oscar Nominees was read!

She was left off TWICE! And s0mebody named Marina De Tavira was put it her place! How awful! No Best Actress(f0r her lovely Mary Poppins) and no Best Supporting Actress for silently giving birth in a bath in “A Quiet Place.”

Who just does this Marina de Tavira? And who does she think she is? And this unknown Mexican actress may have just turned the entire Oscar race upside down! Or “turning it turtle” as Meryl Streep so memorably sings it in “Mary Poppins.”

Yalitza Apercio (left) dines with Marina de Tavira & kids in “Roma.”

Marina De Tavira is a highly respected and accomplished Mexican stage and screen actress who plays the distraught, disconsolate, beleagued young mother who is abandoned by her successful doctor husband in what is probably the year’s most acclaimed film “Roma.”

Alfonso Cuaron, who was just nominated himself for an astonishing FOUR Oscars(director/writer/cinematographer/producer) brought Marina and her non-actress peasant nanny co-star Yalitza Apercio Everywhere that he went since he began campaigning at every press event imaginable since the film’s release. In English or in Spanish, it didn’t matter since Marina (and he) speak both, although Yalitiza speaks only Spanish. And Cuaron always thanked the BOTH of them. So Academy voters were seeing and hearing her name all season.

In addition to creating a masterwork of cinema, in the process Cuaron is bringing the positive side of his homeland, Mexico, the United States when America really needs to become acquainted with all the positive sides of Mexicali life that is possible. And “Roma” does this beautifully.

And the fact that it’s subtitled and in Black and White and Spanish can only serve to bring our two countries closer.

My Spanish isn’t that great, but I understood every single little thing that was happening in “Roma.” I can’t wait to see it continue its triumphant march to the Dolby in February.

I ‘ve even witnessed De Tavira’s charming, extremely elegant presence at the press conference at the New York Film Festival this year, where it was my great pleasure to see “Roma.” I can’t stop talking about this incredible film. Every time I see Yeletiza Apericio’s angelic face, I have to stop myself from bursting out crying.

Controvsial buddy/ road trip film won Best Picture of the Year Award over fierce competition from “Roma” and “Star is Born” and several other films.

The Peter Farrelly comedy based on a true story about a noted African-American jazz musician and his for- hire body guard touring through the rural segratated South in the early 1960s stars Screen Actors Guild nominee Viggo Mortensen and Academy Award nominee Marhershala Ali.

Ali also won the Golden Globe Award for this performance and the Broadcast Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor.

This PGA Award positions “The Green Book” very firmly at the head of this crowded Oscar race in a tumultuous season.

“Roma” makes history at the Broadcast Film Critics tonight. It becomes the first foreign language film to ever win Best Picture. It also won Best Director for its genius helmer Alfonso Cuaron, and he also won for Best Cinematography. Altogether “Roma” won the most awards tonight as it also won Best Foreign Film.

History was also made when Glenn Glose for “The Wife” tied with Lady Gaga for “A Star is Born.” That is a combo I thought I would never in this life see onstage together ! Both WINNING!

For those who care about these things, Lady Gaga’s leading man/director/co-screenwriter/co-producer Bradley Cooper once again got  SQUAT! Nada. Nothing Zilch! Just like he also got completely shafted by the Golden Globes.

Gaga’s win here least keeps her in the race, to some degree. But the Academy, who hands out the Oscars is going to give it to 70-something veteran Glenn Close, who has six previous nominations and no wins.

Mahershala Ali nailed Best Supporting Actor once again for “The Green Book,” and he will probably go on to repeat his Golden Globe triumph at the Oscars. This category is now officially closed.

Regina King also won, AGAIN, for “If Beale Street Could Talk” but she won’t win at the SAGS because she wasn’t nominated there. Watch Amy Adams for “Vice” take that.

Christian Bale was TWICE tonight for his evil vice president in “Vice.” This makes him almost a lock now for Best Actor at the Oscars,

Who Woulda Thunk It? Broadway’s Glorious Norma Desmond FINALLY coming in to her own after HOW MANY Golden Globe nominations! I mean, what were the odds up against Lady Gaga? For. as I said, a few posts back, “A Bore is Starred?”

Glenn, who I famously interviewed for the New York Times, a while back,was always supposed to be an also ran. A rather withheld patrician typ has always had trouble getting her emotions out from within. She was brought up reserved.

And there was upsetting the Golden Globe apple cart AND all the Oscarologists (me among them) who wrote her off as having no chance. Against the on-slaught of the youth condition. Lady Gagagagagagme among them. And winning of a simple domestic drama no less! “The Wife” There’s no stopping her now. She’ll win the Oscar too,

And that EGREGRIOIUS piece of dreck, “Shallow” won for Best Song and she was lucky to get that.

Watch one of
“Mary Poppins Returns” win there. Leaving “A Star is Born” with ZERO. It COULD happen.

Could 2019 be beginning with the ambrosial prospect of the brilliant British actress Emily Blunt up for TWO Oscar Nominations? One for Leading Actress for “Mary Poppins Returns” and the other for the nerve-shattering pregnant wife Evelyn in her real life husband John Grasinski’s horror film “The Quiet Place”?

Well, it’s happened already from a no-less than august awards body the SAGs, which nominated her twice in both categories. It’s almost unheard of. And she could win both.

The roles couldn’t be more diverse and more than show Blunt’s huge range as an actor. This certainly seems to be her moment. Awards-ignored for years, despite her superlative work in over 30 films, and every kind of character imaginable, 2019 finally seems to be her time to shine.

“The Quiet Place,” for those who may have missed it, is the early-in-the year 90 minute horror film that drew raves from critics as well as a boffo turn at the box-office.

incredibly taut and electrifingly directed and co-written by her real life husband John Grasinky, it stuns by the use of all things, silence. Blunt even has a deaf daughter played marvelously by the real life deaf actress Millicent Simmonds.

All are in jeopardy in a remote farm-house from a more or less traditional horror film monster (again astonishingly played by Krasinsky Himself) and if all this seems to much for the normal Awards-voting film=goer, don’t forget, they LOVE silent films(which “The Quiet Place” more or less is) and this is Emily Blunt’s year, there’s no denying itl And “The Quiet Place”s overwhelming and unexpected audience acceptance. only ads to Blunt’s momentum with Poppins. Disney had mounted a jmajor campaign for “Mary Poppins Returns” in all categories and Paramount has now done the same with “The Quiet Place.” So she was TWO major studios pushing for her.

Blunt even has a sure-fire “Oscar clip” scene where she has to give birth SILENTLY in an old-fashioned stand-alone bathtub. They all have to keep silent at all costs or the monster will incinerate them. It’s an edge-of-your-seater and in the same year as Blunt’s courageously/outrageous musical turn as  Mary Poppins, rivaling predecessor Julie Andrews, who also won an Oscar for Poppins.

It’s an awards-magnet role and Emily Blunt is the newly minted Awards magnet herself. And she’s nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy, too.

The Golden Globes are this coming Sunday. Don’t miss them! If Blunt wins there against high-brow fellow Brit Olivia Coleman for “The Favourite”, she could very well begin her march to the Oscars! You heard it here first!












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