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Casey Affleck Wins Best Actor!!! Isabelle Huppert Wins Best Actress!!! Another Upset!

capturemanchester-art-directionCasey Affleck, as expected just won Best Actor Drama, from the Golden Globes tonight, for “Manchester by the Sea”. So happy. So richly deserved. He gave a nice speech and thanked filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan. “This film is all him. I love you, man.” Thanked his wife and children. Perfectly acceptable speech on the road to the Oscars. “Michelle Williams, you’re just perfect.”

Then Upset of Upsets Isabelle Huppert wins Best Actress for “Elle”!!! She was REALLY shocked!

Then “Moonlight” wins Best Picture in another Upset! It didn’t win anything else all night. And there it is an all African-American cast winning Best Picture Drama. This year it’s definitely NOT #Oscarssowhite  any more! And it’s a totally gay film! I can’t believe it! I never thought I’d ever live to see this.

What does this all mean? All these surprises!

Well, this means that Isabelle Huppert will probably definitely get an Oscar nomination. I doubt she’ll win up against Emma Stone. And this is really bad for Natalie Portman for “Jackie.” She was supposed to win this. She needed to win this. But the Hollywood FOREIGN Press does sometimes loves its’ own, in this case, the French language film “Elle” and French icon Isabelle Huppert.

This also seals Emma Stone’s Best Actress Oscar. Her speech was lovely, but she better get a better dress.  Casey was touching and he thanked everyone he could in the little time he had, but I don’t think he thanked his big brother, Ben. But he did take time to thank Matt Damon, one of the producer, who stepped away from this role of lonely, alcoholic janitor Lee, and told them to use Casey. And it turns out to be the role that is making Casey’s career. But he did profusely thank him. He said it in an understated, comic way that made the audience laugh. Casey shook his head over and over like he couldn’t believe it. And also he gave an extended thanks go Denzel Washington, who was his main competition.

manchester-by-the-sea-7This evening clarifies Best Actress which will be Emma Stone, Best Actor which will be Casey Affleck, and Viola Davis for Best Supporting Actress. If she stays in that category….. The Academy puts actors where they FEEL like putting them. In lead, if they feel they don’t belong in Supporting. Remember Kate Winslet?

“La La Land”s  7 awards sweep will probably mean it will do the same at the Oscars, I’m betting. I really don’t see the homophobic Academy giving an All Gay All the Way film, “Moonlight” Best Picture. They probably feel it’s throwing its’ main award away if it doesn’t give it to something heterosexual.

But this is Casey’s Big Night, and Emma’s, and of course, Meryl Streep’s and Viola Davis’s.

Denzel looked REALLY depressed when they cut to him during Casey Affleck’s speech. He already has two Oscars.

What a night! But who’s going to win Best Supporting Actor? I doubt the Academy is going to honor Aaron Taylor-Johnson for “Nocturnal Animals.”

I do think this is one of the best Golden Globes ever, and Fallon wisely got out of the way, and just let it happen.

#Manchester by the Sea

#Casey Affleck

#Best Actor Drama

# Isabelle Huppert

#French

#Elle

 

#Matt Damon

# Kenneth Lonergan

 

 

 

 

Debbie Reynolds Dies One Day After Carrie Fisher “Brights Lights” both

carroe-fisher-debbie-reynolds

Hollywood’s heart is surely broken forever with the devastating news of Legend Debbie Reynolds death the day after her beloved daughter Carrie Fisher’s death. I’m sad. I’m reeling. I just saw them featured quite marvelously in “Bright Lights” a doc on their tangled lives at the NYFF. And the thing that struck me so much about “Bright Lights” by Fisher Stevens, was how much they loved each other. How much fun they had and what a joy and a treat this documentary was.

It’s supposed to air on HBO, now probably sooner rather than later, but don’t miss it. It now has an air of tragedy hanging about it, that both Fisher and Reynolds dispel completely by their constantly being “On.” And entertaining us mightily and forever. It’s a fitting tribute to them, as they always say.

And they don’t hold back. It’s like they just couldn’t. But they loved each other and clearly couldn’t live without each other as events have sadly born out.

When I heard Carrie had died, I just KNEW in my heart that her death would kill Debbie, too, and it did. Their houses adjoined each other more or less “up a steep hill” as Carrie put it in Hollywood. They collected endless memorabilia from the Golden Days, and now Debbie herself, one of the biggest symbols of Hollywood’s hey day that there ever was is gone.

I can scarcely stand it. Debbie Reynolds played such a large role in my life, always the smiling, dancing teenager from “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Tammy” that song that never leaves your mind. And she was even nominated for an Oscar once for “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”

Carrie had “Star Wars” a bigger hit financially than any of her mother’s films ever were. And her now iconic Princess Leia never really bowled me over. But her millions of fans disagree.

I loved her acerbic wit, which the film “Bright Lights” capitalizes on by starting with Carrie calling Debbie “tsu-Mommy,” but not to her face. When she enters the room with Debbie in it, it’s always “Mommy.” And the sweetness is not faked for the cameras.

With all her addictions and bipolar disorders, I always thought of Carrie as crashingly normal despite her upbringing and her surroundings. And so did she.

Debbie once said of Carrie “She’s genuine.” And she was. They both were.

We, the fans, are with them forever and are happy that they are together again in Hollywood Heaven. And we do have this great upcoming doc “Bright Lights” to watch over and over again as soon as it starts airing.

No Mommie Dearest relationship here. They truly loved each other. Don’t miss “Bright Lights.” Their bright lights will never go out.

#Debbie Reynolds Death

# Bright Lights doc

# Carrie Fisher Death

Will Drama Desk Winners Repeat at the TONYs?

Jessica & Cynthia 1Will Drama Desk Winners repeat their triumphs at the TONYS? Probably. This year, especially. I think so. Above are pictured the two Best Actress winners. Jessica Lange for “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” and British newcomer Cynthia Erivo who is starring in “The Color People.” Lange won for Best Actress in a play and Erivo won for Best Actress in a Musical. I think these two ladies are Won and Done. At the Tonys.

Also poised to repeat at the TONYs are their two male counterparts in Drama Desk triumph Danny Burstein in “Fiddler on the Roof” and Frank Langella in the French play about an Alzheimer’s victim “The Father.”

I think all four of these powerhouse thespians can rest assured the Tony Voters will like them, really like them,too. The Tony Voters  do look increasingly to the Drama Desk winners to narrow their playing field, as it were.

This year, though, the theatrical phenom “Hamilton” is nominated for more TONYs than any other production in Broadway history. But in these four leading categories I don’t think it will register as it is likely to do in others. “Hamilton” won nearly every award in the book LAST year when it was eligible for the Drama Desks(and also the Outer Critics Circle and the Obies) because it played Off Broadway first at its’ historic run at the Public that launched it to Broadway.

And although two of its’ leading men author/actor Lin Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odon are both nominated for Best Actor in a Musical, I think they will cancel each other out, leaving the way for the popular veteran Danny Burstein to triumph for his joyous Tevye in “Fiddler.”

In other news, I think juggernaut “Hamilton” may find itself stopped at the TONYS. Although it was nominated for a historic 16 awards, I think it’s going to register much, much less than that.

The only acting award I think is a surefire win for “Hamilton” is the charming young African-American actress Renee Elise Goldsberry, who won the Drama Desk last year for Best Featured(or Supporting) Actress in a Musical.Renee Rlise Goldsberry 1

And on the Drama side, the powerful performance of veteran Jayne Howdeyshell from the Best Play Drama Desk winner “The Humans” could score in Supporting, which is where the TONYS put her and co-star Reed Birney, although they are both leads. “The Humans” also won for Best Ensemble at the Drama Desks, a special category that the DDs always give, but the TONYs do not.Jayne Houdyshell Humans 1

“Hamilton” will win Best Musical for sure. But the TONY voters are notorious for spreading the wealth around, and I think they will do that this year, too, in spite of “Hamilton” perceived dominance.

#Drama Desk Awards, # Hamilton, # Tonys, #Jessica Lange, #Cynthia Arivo, #A Long Day’s Journey Into Night, #Color Purple, #Best Actress in a Leading Role, #Danny Burstein, #Frank Langella, #Fiddler on the Roof, #The Father, #Lyn-Manuel Miranda, #Renee Elise Goldsberry,#Jayne HowdyShell #The Humans

Complete List of Drama Desk Winners

Sunday night at Town Hall, the Drama Desk Awards were handed out to a bunch of very happy winners. The Drama Desks are the only theatrical organization that hands out awards to productions and performances from Broadway, Off Broadway and Off Off Broadway equally, and is composed entirely of members of the press. Including yours truly.

Here is a complete list of the winners:

Outstanding Play
The Humans, Roundabout Theatre Company

Outstanding Musical
Shuffle Along

Outstanding Revival of a Play
A View from the Bridge

Outstanding Revival of a Musical
She Loves Me, Roundabout Theatre Company

Outstanding Actor in a Play
Frank Langella, The Father, Manhattan Theatre Club

Outstanding Actress in a Play
Jessica Lange, Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Danny Burstein, Fiddler on the Roof

Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Cynthia Erivo, The Color Purple

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play
Michael Shannon, Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
Saycon Sengbloh, Eclipsed, Public Theater

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
Christopher Fitzgerald, Waitress

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Jane Krakowski, She Loves Me

Outstanding Director of a Play
Ivo van Hove, A View from the Bridge

Outstanding Director of a Musical
(tie)
John Doyle, The Color Purple
Bartlett Sher, Fiddler on the Roof

Outstanding Choreography
Savion Glover, Shuffle Along

Outstanding Music
Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Bright Star

Outstanding Lyrics
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Dear Evan Hansen

Outstanding Book of a Musical
John Caird, Daddy Long Legs

Outstanding Orchestrations
Larry Hochman, She Loves Me, Roundabout Theatre Company

Outstanding Music in a Play
Philip Glass, The Crucible

Outstanding Set Design for a Play
Christopher Oram, Hughie

Outstanding Set Design for a Musical
David Rockwell, She Loves Me

Outstanding Costume Design for a Play
Anita Yavich, The Legend of Georgia McBride

Outstanding Costume Design for a Musical
Ann Roth, Shuffle Along

Outstanding Lighting Design for a Play
Justin Townsend, The Humans

Outstanding Lighting Design for a Musical
Justin Townsend, American Psycho

Outstanding Projection Design
Finn Ross, American Psycho

Outstanding Sound Design for a Play
Fitz Patton, The Humans

Outstanding Sound Design for a Musical
Dan Moses Schreier, American Psycho

Outstanding Wig and Hair Design
Mia M. Neal, Shuffle Along

Outstanding Solo Performance
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Fully Committed

Unique Theatrical Experience
That Physics Show

Special Awards

The Humans – Special Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble
Cassie Beck, Reed Birney, Jayne Houdyshell, Lauren Klein, Arian Moayed, and Sarah Steele spend a very special Thanksgiving Day together in Stephen Karam’s play, reminding us that home is indeed where The Humans are.

The Royale – Special Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble
The heavyweight cast of McKinley Belcher III, Khris Davis, Montego Glover, John Lavelle, and Clarke Peters gels as a unit in bringing Marco Ramirez’s story, inspired by Jack Johnson, to unforgettable life, offering a trenchant statement on racism in America.

Sheldon Harnick – Special Drama Desk Award
New productions of Fiddler on the Roof, Rothschild and Sons, and She Loves Me this season remind us that this veteran lyricist’s takes on faith, family and community are as resonant as ever.

Camp Broadway – Special Drama Desk Award
For more than 20 years, this indispensable organization has introduced young people to the magic of theater. Camp Broadway plays a crucial role in creating tomorrow’s audiences.

Danai Gurira – Sam Norkin Award
Whether writing about women in wartime Liberia in Eclipsed or about an affluent immigrant family from Zimbabwe struggling with assimilation in Familiar, Danai Gurira demonstrates great insight, range, and depth, bringing a fresh new voice to American theater.

#Drama Desk AwardsJessica Lange  1

Extraordinary “Follies of God, Tennessee Williams & the Women of the Fog”!

Follies of God 1Every now & then a book comes along that is so extraordinary that you just have to drop everything & run to it! Such a book is “Follies of God, Tennessee Williams & the Women of the Fog” by James Grissom. Just when you thought you’d heard everything that there was to hear about the late, great, multiply-awarded as well as multiply-addicted playwright Tennessee Williams, along comes “Follies of God” and blows nearly everything else that’s been written about “Tenn” out of the water.

It’s an absolute must-have, must-read for anyone who loves the theater, as I do, and loves great actresses, as I do, and loves to write great roles for great actresses, as well, I try to do.You can’t put it down! It’s an absolute page turner. And the story behind “Follies of God” is as amazing as any plot Williams ever concocted for his great heroines.

You see, a year and half before his death, he summoned a young fan who had written him a letter, and that young man was James Grissom. Williams dubbed him “Dixie” (They were both in Louisiana at the time) and unbeknownst to the 20-year-old aspiring actor/writer, Williams concocted an epic plan of the book, a pseudo-memoir, he would endow Dixie with the task of writing sometime in the future when he was long gone. And 30 years or more later, he did.

He had Dixie write down nearly every word he said in little blue note books. And Dixie(Grissom)like Boswell, with Samuel Johnson, wrote down EVERYTHING. And Williams gave him MORE. Shopping bags full of fragments of unfinished plays and poems,”leaves of his mind” Williams said.

And most importantly, he gave him introductions to the greatest actresses of the past 50 years, the greats of the American Theater, and he tasked Dixie with writing down what THEY thought of him. And he wrote lyrical elegies to them all, and sent mementos, which inevitably reduced all of them to tears. They, to a one, had no idea how he felt about them.Follies of God 2

Williams knew instinctively that he had the right person for this incredibly daunting task, and he did. But it’s taken nearly a lifetime for Dixie, who turned into a wonderful adult writer, James Grissom to bring this book into print. But the work and the wait were well worth it.

Focusing ONLY on the relationships of these great stage actresses to the iconic roles in his plays, it’s a fascinating, breath-taking read. As Dixie encounters saints (Marian Seldes, Maureen Stapleton),sinners(Kim Stanley, Jo Van Fleet) and stars (Geraldine Page, Katharine Hepburn) who all burst into tears on reading what Williams wrote about them.

And wait! There’s more!

Grissom reveals, for perhaps the first time, that Williams and William Inge were life-long lovers, as well as sometimes haters. That on-again, off-again tempestuous romance fueled both writers and in turn endowed the theater(and the films) of mid-Twentieth century America with some of its’ greatest writing. And the greatest parts for actresses, bar none.

Some are missing. Elizabeth Taylor, for instance. But most are there.Jo Van Fleet 1

The worst of them was evidently Jo Van Fleet, the Oscar-winning mother of James Dean in “East of Eden” who became so penurious & eccentric in her sad later years that she would carry her “mottled” Oscar with her in a tote bag and plunk it down whenever she couldn’t cash a check or pay a bill.”THIS is who I am!” she would angrily declare. Frightening all who heard her.Jo Van Fleet 2

Why “Women of the Fog”? The fog was what Tennessee would always declare his great female characters came to him out of, as it rolled across the proscenium stage of his mind.

Gossipy, gilded and glorious, it’s all  here in James Grissom’s wonderful “Follies of  God, Tennessee Williams and the Women of the Fog.” It’s now out in paperback, too. By all that is holy, you must read this great book!

Oscar Chances for “Love & Mercy”? Not so much

Love and MercyI really hate it when my critical colleagues are raving, and I go see a movie that has been hailed everywhere and I think “Wha….?” Love and Mercy” is another small film that has been over-hyped and arrived far-too-early for Oscar. I mean, it’s JUNE! Not September…

You can always tell by the release date. And putting this serious-minded film out in JUNE and expecting it to last until the Oscar season hits in earnest, which let’s face it is the fall, at the earliest, is really hoping for a little too much in this case.

I mean, it’s OK, with three great supporting performances, if you count John Cusack’s older iteration of Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys “genius” as supporting, plus an astoundingly good turn by Elizabeth Banks, and Paul Giamatti playing Wilson’s “Evil” psychiatrist/doctor/keeper/jailer to the max. Well, those three performances will last, if the film company keeps pushing them.

But it’s a long, long way from here to September, as the song goes. And Paul Dano for Best Actor?!? You’ve got to be kidding! He put on weight and flails around and stares and zones in and out aand is not a very compelling center to this bi-fircated film. “Love and Mercy” is literally two films. One about the young Brian(Dano) and one by about the old(er) Brian done stunningly by John Cusack, who has never been this good.

Dano was better in “Twelve Years a Slave” and even better in that Canadian film where he played a child molester. He plays bad good.

But here where we are supposed to identify with this crazy mixed-up kid that is the young super-self-indulgent Wilson, well, it was hard to relate to his crazy. He stares a lot and that is supposed to convince he’s schizophrenic. Or something like that.

Cusack is MUCH more compelling as the older Wilson, really going THERE as far as the mental illness is concerned. He COULD get a supporting nomination, even though he’s the lead.

You see the film is split in two, and if it WASN’T it would not seem original at all. You really need one actor to identify with. Jamie Foxx in “Ray” and Marion Cotillard in “La Vie En Rose” come to mind as similar Oscar-winning musical bio-pics. But the lead was played by ONE person. Not two.

Cutting Brian Wilson in two does not help us like him more. And I think it cuts its’ Oscar chances in two, if it ever gets that far.

The really revelatory performance was Elizabeth Banks’, an actress not none for her complexity, or dramatic chops. Here she totally nails the role of Melinda, the good, normal and stunningly beautiful Cadillac sales person, who Wilson falls in love with in middle age and who saves his life.

In a weak actress field, and aren’t they always these days? Banks might pull it out. She and Cusack are terrific together. But “Love and Mercy” has a hard slog getting to November and awards time.

 

 

David Carr Dead at 58 at the NY Times. A Great Man Gone too soon.

David Carr, who I had the privilege of knowing, was one of the greats, and he dropped dead in the offices of the New York Times, the paper where he worked, and which he loved.

He was like a character out of Damon Runyon. So his Times Square Media beat fit him perfectly. With his raspy voice, and that penetrating gaze, and his odd-ball looks, he could very well have stepped from the pages of “Guys and Dolls” accept he worked for the NYTimes.So he wasn’t a gansta. He was a SUCCESSFUL Damon Runyon character. But he did have the great compassion for the down-and-outers of the world, having been, unbelievably, a former drug addict himself.

He got himself clean more than a decade ago and wrote a book about it, too. “The Night of the Gun.”

I got to him know when he was creating the Oscar beat at the NYTimes, which was something completely new to them, at the time. A regular blog on the Oscars? And he called it “The Carpetbagger” as in Red Carpet, and he felt like he was a carpetbagger, that ole Civil War term, because he felt like an interloper at these ceremonies. And he had a side-kick, too. My friend Paula Schwartz, whom he called “the Baguette.”

He wrote about the Oscar race incredibly well, not giving quarter to any one or any film. And he did love films. I think he was the one who coined the phrase “the silly season” to describe what we are now in. Which is less than two weeks from Oscar.

He always was encouraging, supportive of any one who was doing what he was doing, trying to make sense, and news, out of the Oscars. He liked me because of my Oscar obsession and my friendships with other Oscarologists. I think I was a Guru o’ Gold for Movie City News at the time.

He loved Sasha Stone and David Poland. And he wrote about them in his column as they had never been covered before, especially Sasha. She wrote ANOTHER incredible piece on her relationship with David, and the shock of his passing at http://www.awardsdaily.com It’s a must read. Every time he was out in L.A., Sashino was his date of choice. Yes, Sashino was Sasha, as Paula was the Baguette. He gave nick-names to people he really liked.

I remember him storming into a press meet-and-great for the film “Milk,” practically shouting at the top of his lungs about a film he’d just had to sit through, “‘Australia’ is a piece of shit!” It was an epic about that continent and he was so vehement about the 2 or 3 hours that were stolen out of his life by this film (which got no Oscar consideration whatsoever, as it turned out), I chose to skip it myself.

He was always very nattily dressed at these events, with the trademark grey scarf that you see him pictured with here.

I knew I was in the presence of a great man, a great writer, a great reporter, one of the giants of our time, and I am so sorry he’s gone. I wish I knew him better.David Carr

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