a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for January, 2016

Greatest SAG Awards Ever! “Downton Abbey” Wins Best Series!

Alixia SAGThis has got to be the greatest SAG awards presentation ever! It FLEW! And the Good Guys Won! So glamorous, in an understated way. Favorite moments ~ Alicia Vikander, the Swedish star of “The Danish Girl” was looking stunning in an iridescent Louis Vuitton gown composed of sequined panels of black, white and earth tones. She thanked her mother, who is an actress, describing her childhood of growing up in a theater in Sweden watching her mother act. Classy and beautiful. And that charmingly accented British/Swedish speech! She looked divine and she sounded divine! She sounded and looked every inch a star! The New Audrey Hepburn is born! And I’m predicting this the upcoming, inevitable Academy award is just the FIRST Oscar win for the lovely Alicia! She’s unstoppable!

Downton Abbey SAG“Downton Abbey” winning Best TV Series Drama and a large portion its’ brilliant cast, accepting and Lesley Nicol “Mrs. Patmore” the funny, maternal cook, thanking everyone in Hollywood for being “so kind.” I’m sure THAT’S an adjective that hasn’t been used before about Hwood, and of course, she thanked Julian Fellowes “Who wrote every single word we say. He’s a great writer.” And he is.

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And of course, Idris Elba referring to his incredible double win and his saying “Welcome to Diverse TV!”

And last but not least, the wonderful win of “Spotlight” as the “Best Ensemble.” The good guys won!

Brie Larson Wins SAG Best Actress for “Room”!”Spotlight” Wins Best Ensemble!

Brie Larson 3Looking not at all like this possessed picture above ^ Brie Larson just won her well deserved SAG Award for Best Actress or as they put it, Best Female Actor.  She seems so much like the girl next door, you can’t believe that she was the “captured for seven years” girl next door.  In the shed in the back garden. And now here comes Best Actor!

Annnnnd it’s Leo. Oh well. And a Standing O, too. That’s it. That’s the ball game. He’ll win the Oscar, too. As will Brie Larson.

And “Spotlight” wins Best Ensemble!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THANK GOODNESS!!!!

A shocked Mark Ruffalo gave a very nice speech, very moving, very heartfelt. “I really didn’t expect this”he exclaimed. And then handed the blue “Actor” award over to Michael Keaton, who ALSO gave a very impassioned speech about the “disenfranchised everywhere. Flint, Michigan, everywhere.”

So basically, that ALSO is the ballgame, dear readers, dear cineastes, for Best Picture.

I saw “The Big Short”,”Spotlight”s main competitor, but I kept thinking “They’re not giving their main award to a film that they may not understand.”

Even though the heroes in “Spotlight”  are journalists, a species that actors purport to disdain, but not tonight. And this win for “Spotlight” which I’m happy about, re-emphasizes that “Spotlight” is about something very, very serious and it’s a drama. “The Big Short” is a comedy. Comedy always loses and will probably now lose the Oscar, too. Spotlight 4

“Spotlight”is about the decades-long cover up of sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church is an important topic. SAG felt it was more important than Wall St.’s corruption.

I also felt that “The Big Short” disturbingly glamorizes this corruption. Which is something that “Spotlight” does not. It faces its’ issues straight on, and condemns them. And everybody in the movie is just terrifically understated, and quietly brilliantly intense.

This win tonight for “Spotlight” puts it in the front-runner spotlight, once again, and I think it will stay there through to the Oscars.

Mark Ruffalo’s very moving acceptance speech showed Oscar voters, who watch these predictive proceedings like a hawk, are very likely to take note of that marvelous moment of Ruffalo’s. They also saw Leo, and Brie, and Alicia Vikander doing their best Oscar audition acceptance speeches, too. And they did it so well, I think all three of them nailed down their Oscar wins tonight. Indupitably.

The only category left up in the air tonight was Best Supporting Actor, because supposed favorite Sylvester Stallone is leading that Oscar category and Idris Elba isn’t nominated there. But Mark Ruffalo is.

So we have a very locked and loaded Oscar race now. Except for Best Supporting Actor, which will be announced VERY early in the evening as it usually is.

This occasion is a much more joyous one than the Golden Globes were.Indubitably.Boston Globe


Idris Elba Wins SECOND SAG in ONE NIGHT!?!

A speechless Idris Elba just won a SECOND Screen Actor’s Guild in one night!?! He kept saying “I don’t know what to say!”

Idris Elba 3Elba won his second “Actor” in one night for Best Actor in a TV Series, “Luther.” Elba really needed this recognition in order that his name really means something in America.

He SHOULD be a household name in the US. And now, I hope, he will be.

He thanked his children, his wife. And the writer of “Luther” who lives in New Zealand. “And he writes this dark series, looking out a little window in New Zealand. I don’t know how he does it.”

The camera keeps cutting back to him as the show goes on and he is SMILING the biggest smile and flashing the peace sign at the camera. He can’t stop smiling.

Carol Burnett is being given a Lifetime Achievement Award by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. And of course, she gets a standing ovation!Red Carpet Idris

Idris Elba Wins SAG Best Supporting Actor!

Idris Elba 2Just as I predicted, Idris Elba won Best Supporting Actor tonight at SAG for “Beasts of No Nation”. Even though he is REALLY the lead in this film, and his win in a lily-white field shows that the #Oscarssowhite conflagration/controversy can’t be blamed on the 150,000 members(or more) of the Screen Actors Guild. He’s a great actor, and I wish all the world could know it, and perhaps they will.

He’s a big star in his native England, and has been for years. And I will make another prediction. He will NOW go on to win the Oscars in the upcoming years, as he should have done tonight.

“Orange is the New Black” won Best Comedy TV series and African-American Uzo Aduba won Best Actress in a Comedy TV series. This is her SECOND consecutive win in this category! Diversity is reigning tonight! Good!

And now Queen Latifah wins Best Actress in a TV mini-series or movie for playing Bessie Smith!

Alicia Vikander Wins Best Supporting Actress for “The Danish Girl” at SAG

Alicia Vikander 7Well, she won AGAIN! Yes! It’s official now! Alicia Vikander is an awards steamroller that can’t be stopped this season for “The Danish Girl”! My Number One Film! I said it before and I’ll be saying it again over and over I’m sure. Brava! Diva!Alicia 6

Live-Blogging SAG(Screen Actors Guild) Awards tonite.

SAG 1The Screen Actors Guild Awards are tonight, and I’m going to be live-blogging them, dear readers, dear cineastes.  In NYC, they are on the TBS or TNT channels at 8pm EST. Check your local listings.

There should be MANY surprises tonight. We’ll see if the #Oscarssowhite controversy is going to impact the awards.

Black British Actor Idris Elba is the man of the hour tonight. He’s nominated for Best Supporting Actor on the film side for “Beasts of No Nation.” And on the TV side he’s nominated for “Luther”. He’s against Mark Rylance in both categories and I feel he is going to take home at least ONE “actor” as they call their awards. If “Beasts of No Nation” wins Best Ensemble, then Elba might be taking home three!

Mark Rylance 1
Rylance, a stage legend in Britain and multiple Tony winner on Broadway, is his main competition tonight for “Bridge of Spies” for Best Supporting Actor Film, and for “Wolf Hall” TV series.

Unfortunately, Elba was NOT nominated for an Oscar. (He’s a magnificent actor. He should have been.) None of this awful Oscarssowhite scandal would’ve happened if he had been nomminated. It’s rumored that he may be the first Black James Bond.

Here’s an interview I did with Idris a few years back at the Toronto Film Festival.

As for Best Picture Film, it’s back and forth and forth and back between “Spotlight” and late riser “The Big Short.” Which is what it was like last year with “Birdman” and “Boyhood.” Up til the last second. And then “Birdman” won by a beak at the Oscars. I still can’t believe that happened.

Me? I’d vote for “Spotlight” if I was a voting member of SAG. But I’m not, so we’ll see. Unlike the Academy, SAG voters DO have a sense of humor. So “The Big Short”s cutting edge wit would not be held against it tonight. We’ll see.

And if Leonardo wins Best Actor here tonight, he’ll win the Oscar, too. Ditto Brie Larson.

But if it’s Bryan Cranston for “Trumbo” LOOK OUT! All bets are off. And Leo could kiss his Oscar good-bye. At least for “The Revenant”Revenant 3

And I think Alicia Vikander will triumph here in Supporting Actress for “The Danish Girl.”Alicia 6







Great New Mike Nichols Doc is FInally HERE!


Reprinted from before Xmas! Don’t miss it!Mike Nichols 1

I know. I know. It’s barely a week left to Christmas, and everyone’s counting down the Shopping Days. But there’s a post-holiday surprise coming that will reward and enlighten you for years and years to come. It’s going to be a cultural touchstone. And it’s directed by the great Elaine May.

And it’s a documentary about her late, great early career comic partner Mike Nichols, probably one of the greatest talents this country has ever seen. And he wasn’t American! He was German!

This insightful and also immensely profound and FAIR assessment of Mike Nichols overwhelming career that spanned decades and crisscrossed media with the speed of lightning, making film and theater and comic history as he went.

Elaine May is the perfect person to document and analyze all this within the confines of an American Masters special. It’s not on the air until January, but check you local listings and DON’T MISS IT!

From an unusual childhood background of escaping the Nazis, Nichols grew up on New York’s Upper West Side, the son of a successful doctor. He sits for a feature-length interview and reveals much that we have never been privy to before.

It’s like he was leaving his legacy to his early partner in comic improv and equally early success, Elaine May. Their break-up always stupefied me. But here they both are decades later setting the record straight and settling a few scores along the way.

May gets Nichols to reveal the downs as well as the ups of his astonishing career first as a comic sketch artist par excellence with his legendary duo of Him and Elaine May. Nichols and May. I grew up hearing about them, and glimpsing them occasionally on television in the sixties, when they were hotter than hot.Nichols and MayLater on in High School or college, I think I even bought one of their great comedy albums.

May allows a few laughs here, of course, but they are sprinkled very parsimoniously throughout this great doc. The tone is serious, as well it should be. He was a great artist. She even gets him to burst into tears when discussing Meryl Streep.

“I can’t talk about Meryl,” he reveals while fighting back sobs. What would he have told us, if he hadn’t broken down. He directed Streep in one of her Oscar nominated performances “Silkwood.”

There are gem-like moments as friends from Show Business pile on the praise and the details. And nobody is harder on Nichols than he himself. And he denotes that he feels he failed as much as he succeeded.

Interesting to note that his surviving wife Diane Sawyer, is nowhere mentioned. But Nichols’ life was so chock-full of incidents that I guess she wasn’t needed. It’s quite a complete portrait of an Artist in Full. And what a great Christmas present to know that it is coming soon!

“The Big Short” Wins the PGA

Big Short 1So “The Big Short” wins BIG. It just was named Best Picture of the Year by the Producers Guild last night in Hollywood. The only person who predicted this Big Time was awardsdaily’s Sasha Stone. She was right on the money. And you should read her excellent explanation and thoughts on this film, which she openly admits having fallen in love with and having seen already several times. Read Sasha at of course http://www.awardsdaily.com.

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Me, I liked it, but was completely confused by it the first time I saw it. And I think it needs multiple viewings to get it all. Sasha agrees. But am I going back to see it again? Well, I’m not running.

I didn’t like it because there was a lot about it I didn’t understand. I sat down with a financial friend and he took a long brunch explaining it to me, with pictures of the cast before us, and by the end of it, I THINK I completely understood it. But I’m still not sure.

But HE liked it tremendously. And every other financial person I know seems to delight in it. Me, I felt part of the problem. I’m somehow who eschews financial matters in all forms. I’m just not good at it. I was never good at math, though for some strange reason, I won the Math Medal when I was graduating for Grammar School. Go figure. My mother always said it was a mistake and that I should’ve won the English Medal, and they mixed me up with another red-headed student. Who should’ve won the Math medal. I was confused. “The Big Short” confused me.

Now since it’s the PRODUCERS Guild giving this award, it makes sense that all the PRODUCERS would totally get this movie, because that’s what they do all day. Deal with money, and shorts, big and small, and investments, and money, etc. etc.

But will this pre-figure Best Picture at the Oscars? Voted on by 6000 people who may not get it as I didn’t.

I thought the performances were all fine. But an Oscar nomination for Christian Bale? I would’ve nominated Brad Pitt or Ryan Gosling…

I still balk at the idea that this movie is glorifying these real life men who when I first saw “The Big Short” I thought were the CAUSE of the financial collapse of 2008. But my financial friend explained to me that these men depicted here just SAW what was coming and capitalized on it, and made a lot of money. Oh. OK, so THAT was what the film was about.

I still don’t think I’d vote for a film that confused me so much. But I LEARNED something from it. I learned what I already knew I didn’t know. Does this make an Oscar movie?

All Broadway Shows Cancelled for Tonight Because of Snow

Snow 16 1Was going to see Richard Greenberg’s new play “Our Mother’s Brief Affair” but it’s been cancelled because of the massive snowstorm that has hit NYC. And it’s still falling! Cabin Fever!

In fact, all Broadway shows have been cancelled for tonight. 😦

Oscars ~ Where Are We Now?

OscarsWith so much controversy flying every which way this year, where exactly are we? Well, the safest best bet is to watch for the Producers Guild to announce their winner this weekend. And I’m guessing it will be “Spotlight.” Low wattage, reserved, and quietly, subtlely powerful as it is, its’ distinction, like “12 Years a Slave”s before it, can’t be denied.

They’re sweeping changes a foot. Everybody is discussing Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs’ VERY controversial announcement in a form of a press release. I’ll leave it to others who have more time than I do, busy Oscarologist that I am at this time of year, to parse just what all this means. But suffice it to say, for this year, it means NOTHING!

The Oscars 2016 will roll along exactly as they were previous to this two years of #Oscarssowhite maelstrom. Nothing at all is going to change any time soon.

But if it WERE to effect this year’s race, you might see Idris Elba win a deserved supporting actor trophy two weeks from Sunday for “Beasts of No Nation.” I hope he does. This is for a SAG award, which they call, “The Actor”, NOT the Oscar. Beasts

It really riles me that he was excluded and seemingly replaced by Sylvester Stallone, whose performance in “Creed” is nothing but a stream of unintelligible shrugs and mumbles. Stallone is not nominated for the SAG award. The Actors of SAG did the right thing in nominating Elba. So if you want to look for who to blame for this #Oscarssowhite trouble, look below the line. Anne Thompson’s infamous “steakeaters.”

It seems pre-ordained now that Leonardo Di Caprio is going to win Best Actor for the revolting “Revenant.” But if he DOESN’T win the SAG Award for Best Actor two weeks from Sunday and it’s Bryan Cranston, or even Eddie Redmayne, LOOK OUT! Things are not as clear in the blogospheres’ crystal balls as they seem to be.

Brie Larson, a relative unknown, is about to be crowned Oscar’s new Queen,and deservedly so, for “Room.” Brie golden Globe 1Such a powerful, complex, intelligent performance by an actress we almost never see on screen.. Operating against her is “Room”s teeny, tiny distributor A24, who has never been THIS near an Oscar campaign for a  performance before.Alicia

And Alicia Vikander seems to be rising and rising. She SEEMS to have the momentum in Supporting Actress for “The Danish Girl” even though it’s hardly a supporting performance at all. Again the SAGS will tell the tale and also the BAFTAs. She’s also in film after film after film. All big studios. And that means Hollywood already has a steak(stake?) in her future. Her moving, eloquent speech at the Broadcast Film Critics Awards on Sunday helped her immensely too. She was instantly unforgettable.

What happened to “Carol”? That’s the 64 Dollar question. *sigh* I guess it just wasn’t good enough. And WHY wasn’t it good enough? I’d say it was the Big Zero of a performance at its’ center from Rooney Mara. Don’t get me wrong. I liked her playing the bisexual Lisbeth Salander in “Girl with a Dragon Tattoo” which I’ve seen multiple times, liking her more and more each time. But she was a void at the center Carol 3of”Carol” to me. It was like Cate Blanchett was acting all by herself in that film.

Whereas in “The Danish Girl” Alicia Vikander is VERY much present in her interactions, her love of her husband, even as he turns into a woman, even encouraging him as painful as it is for her, in his transition. And she’s playing a real woman, artist Gerde Wegener. , Whereas Mara is playing fictional character who is a blank, at best. Therese Belivet, the character’s name is intriguing, but the part and the performance were not. I’ve known a lot of lesbians in my gay life, and one thing they are not, is boring. “Carol” was boring.

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