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Viggo Mortensen is Fantastic in “Captain Fantastic”

captain-fantastic-1As the votes become due for the Oscar Nominations and the voting officially closed Friday, the 13th, the one name that kept appearing on lists of the Top Five Best Actor predictions was unexpectedly Danish-American actor Viggo Mortensen. Then he got nominated for the SAG Best Actor and his film “Captain Fantastic” became unexpectedly nominated for Best Ensemble. Which is the SAG equivalent of best film. For Best Actor he knocked out(probably) Tom Hanks in “Sully” and in Ensemble it replaced shockingly “La La Land.”

Yes, juggernaut “La La Land” did not make the cut with SAG, but “Captain Fantastic” astoundingly did. So I had to check it out. Better late than never. I do admit I had to be dragged kicking and screaming to watch it, but guess what? I totally loved it! And Viggo is at a career-high with this VERY atypical role.

He plays a man who has retreated totally from society as we know it, with his six underage children and lives in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest in and around a battered green bus. Very hippy dippy. Yeah, that’s what I thought before I gave it a chance and it turns out the film is very sweet and Viggo is as warm as a roaring fireplace (that’s refreshing in this chilly, dour year)and it’s all about fatherhood.captain-fantastic-2

This is a side we’ve never seen of Viggo before, his sweetness. And he’s got a lot to share. He excels in the scenes with his children, who are totally dependent on him, yet he wants them to be as independent and anti-social as he is.

Known primarily as a swash-buckler, swaggering his way through centuries, his trademark role is probably Aragorn, the heroic knight of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and is arguably one of the prime reasons for its’ success as a series of well, swash-buckling epics. He’s every Hobbits best friend.

He can go to the Dark Side,  too, as we saw in his Russian gangster, with perfect Russian accent, and multiple tattoos in David Cronenberg’s “Eastern Promises.” His nude fight in a British sauna with thugs who are trying to kill him has been described by the late Roger Ebert as “a benchmark.”

For those who MUST know, he’s also totally nude, briefly, in this film, too. His line is “It’s just a penis.” Every time he takes off all his clothes, it seems he gets Oscar consideration.

But he does more than just strip in “Captain Fantastic.” He lets his soft side show and is just the most admirable pater familias possible. To see the tough-as-nails Mortensen, drop the sword play and guns and,  replace them with hugs and concerned tears, is just, well, kind of Fantastic, as the title says. He does live up to his name.

To say that it’s a change of pace roll in Mortensen’s career is an understatement. It’s more like a total earthquake-like revelation.captain-fantastic-3And he’s surrounded, SAG is right, by an admirable ensemble. Notably the towering rage of Frank Langella as his straight-arrow father-in-law, and nobody less than the redoubtable Anne Dowd as his ultra-maternal mother-in-law. In a few brief scenes that she has the magnificent Dowd shows that there is indeed love to be found in this strangest of family situations.captain-fantastic-4

George MacKay as Bo and Nicholas Hamilton as Rellian, his two oldest sons also stand up to him and challenge him in ways that no ordinary children would. But Captain Fantastic has fashioned nothing that is ordinary. Everything is original and also deeply touching. This is a sweet-natured gem of a film and I’m glad it’s getting the awards attention it deserves.

If you ever wanted to know what it’s like to grow up in a commune, “Captain Fantastic” answers all those complicated life questions. And there are no simple answers.

#Captain Fantastic

# Viggo Mortensen

#fatherhood

# SAG Ensemble Award Nominee

#SAG Best Actor Nominee

# Oscar Nominee

#Eastern Promises

#Male Nude Fight Scene

 

 

 

 

 

Why Casey Affleck Will Win Best Actor Oscar.

If I was an AMPAS voter, I think it’s just between my two favorite movies (alas, not “Jackie” evidently..sadly…)”La La Land”casey-affleck-adand “Manchester by the Sea”. Initiallly, if I were a voter, I would’ve just said “Yes!” to La Land’s bounce and bouyancy all the way, but now that I’ve had time to mull it over, if I were an Academy member, I might put down “Manchester by the Sea”as my #1 film, because it has gravitas. “La La Land” doesn’t. Not really.

And Casey Affleck’s incredible performance! Imagine how different that film would be if Matt Damon, the originally intended lead, did indeed do it. I don’t think I could ever imagine Sunny Matt as a Hot Mess. And Casey Affleck plays the conflicted male loser so believably…I mean, he really puts you in the mindset of someone who’s killed, accidentally, but I mean, I’m not going to spoil it any further… The unfathomable despair of those deaths…. It’s almost unbearable. It’s unthinkable. BUT HE BEARS IT. He survives the unimaginable, which is the point of the whole film I think,manchester-art-direction

And Kenneth Lonergan, the filmmaker, is a great under-sung America playwright, has done just that. Put the unthinkable on screen and says “Here. This is what life is about. Multiple losses. Deal with it.” And the audience and Affleck’s character, in fact, the whole of New England village Manchester itself is still grappling with the ramifications of what he did. “Manchester” is a movie that ABOUT something. It’s profound. But it’s also profoundly, unexpectedly funny, but that is its’ genius.

Surviving something you thought you’d never be able to survive. Like this past election….And still having a battered, but intact sense of humor and decency. He’s still alive. He struggles, but he goes on living. As Beckett said in “Waiting for Godot”, “I can’t go on….I go on.”

Affleck is playing one of the most original characters ever written for the screen, in that sense. And he’s won over 30 acting awards already! He’ll win BAFTA in a walk. The Brits go for the serious, the heavy(see “Hamlet”) and if he wins SAG, too! Bob’s your uncle, as the Cockneys say.manchester-by-the-sea-8

I did not like Denzel Washington, over-acting in “Fences,” is his only credible competition in the Best Actor category, but Washington did not get nominated for a BAFTA either as director or actor.  Another big snub. And he lost the Golden Globe to Affleck. And he wasn’t named as one of the five directors in the DGA.

Both, though, will get nominations on Jan.24. The next big test will be at SAG. If Affleck wins that, the game is over.

#Casey Affleck

# Best Actor Oscar

#Manchester by the Sea

# Kenneth Lonergan

  • [This article was originally  a post in the comments section of http://www.awardsdaily.com, but I thought it was too good not to reprint (and re-write it) here. Thanks as always to Awardsdaily.]
  • Can Meryl Parlay Her Golden Globes Speech Into Oscar #4?

    meryl-streep-oscarHer Unforgettable Speech at the Golden Globes last Sunday was fiery, brilliant And she reminded us all that she is the greatest there ever was and certainly deserved her Lifetime Achievement Award. I certainly agreed with every word she said, but was she doing something more? Was she going for the Gold? Was she consciously or unconsciously trying to secure her Oscar Number Four? This time it would be for “Florence Foster Jenkins” which she is currently nominated for both SAG and BAFTA?

    It could happen.

    She effectively upstaged every one and everything that night at the Globes and ended up on the front page of every newspaper and magazine world-wide, looking like she had just one something BIG. Like an Oscar. The nominations are going to be announced on Tuesday morning, Jan. 24, albeit in a new format. They are going to be  shown as a live feed to all and sundry, not a live announcement in front of an audience of press at 5am PST as always before. So it can be shown as part of GMAmerica. We’ll see how this gambit works out.

    But Meryl will be nominated again, you can take it to the bank, for her astonishing star turn as the worst opera singer who ever lived Florence Foster Jenkins in the hilarious, touching movie of the same name.florence-foster-jenkins-2-jpg

    And in a tumultuous year where she was one of the bravest possible making the political statement that she did, SAG may decide to reward her courage first, when it holds its’ ceremony this week. And that may set the stage for her to win her fourth Oscar, too, tying her with all time winner Katherine Hepburn. Although Young Emma Stone seems a slam dunk at SAG. Best Actress is the only place SAG members can vote for the” La La Land” juggernaut.

    The 67 year young veteran has some stiff competition this year.Perhaps her stiffest ever, as she is looking at her 20the Oscar Nomination! 20th! That’s already a record breaking honor.meryl-streep-2

    The Best Actress race is the tightest in Oscar history. We have front-runner and Golden Globe winner Emma Stone, closely followed by BFCA winner Natalie Portman as Jackie, and now French icon Isabel Huppert, who just won ANOTHER Best Actress trophy at the Palm Springs Film Festival for the French language film “Elle.” Huppert also just won the New York AND LA film critics, so she’s on a major role. Meryl could upstage them all. Once Again. The power and anger and eloquence behind her Globes speech is something SAG, then the Academy might want repeated on their stages, too. It made headlines.

    Supposedly going to be the lowest rated Oscar broadcast in years, industry voters may just want La Streep to put it back on top. and needless to say, her Florence was a fine, fine award-caliber performance. She’s got stiff competition with Stone and Portman and Huppert, but they’ve got stiff competition, too. And with Taraji P. Henson’s “Hidden Figures” suddenly trouncing “Star War: Rogue Nation” at the box-office this MLK long weekend. It’s going to be quite a jam-packed category. Stay tuned.florence-foster-jenkins-3#Meryl Streep

    #Oscar Number Four

    #Florence Foster Jenkins

    #Meryl Streep

    #Hugh Grant

    #Best Actress Oscar

    #Acceptance Speech at Golden Globes

    #Golden Globes

    #Natalie Portman

    #Emma Stone

    #Isabelle Huppert

    #La La Land

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Oscar Nom Voting Closes Today + More Aaron Taylor-Johnson

    OscarsYep, it’s Friday the 13th and the Oscar Nomination ballots are do in today as the sun sets in the West. 5pm PST specifically. This ends, almost, the Phase I of this year’s Oscar campaign(s). Now all that has to be done is the counting. Which I image for Price, Waterhouse, their accounting house since the dawn of time, is intense. And the nominations themselves will be announced on Nomination Morning eleven days hence.

    The nominations had to be filled out during this very active Awards period of the Golden Globes and their multiple shockeroos and the announcement of the 10 PGA contenders and the five DGA nominees.

    Right now I wouldn’t be surprised if “La La Land,” which swept the Golden Globes with a historic seven wins, and just landed 11 BAFTA nominations on the other side of the Pond, making sure we all know that “La La Land”s appeal is truly international. I think “La La Land” is poised to garner a historic number of nominations, perhaps rivaling even “Ben-Hur” and “Titanic”!

    And Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s surprise win at the Globes and then the surprise BAFTA nomination for “Nocturnal Animals” in Best Supporting pretty much assures he will be nominated for an Oscar, too, in that category. Whoever wins at the Globes is assured an Oscar nomination, history says.

    And below you’ll find my interview with Aaron at TIFF for “Anna Karenina” a few years back, for those who just can’t get enough of the studly star.

    DGA Noms. “Lion” Surprisingly In. Scorsese Out. Lonergan, Jenkins,Chazelle In, too.

    lion-1lion-2One wonders how much influence Harvey Weinstein has over the DGA. Answer, probably a lot, because once more this awards morning yields a Weinstein Co. surprise in the form of a much-prized DGA nomination for his company’s only entry into the Oscar race this year, “The Lion.”

    This probably assures Nicole Kidman(pictured above) and Dev Patel assured nominations in the Supporting Actor categories, and likely a Best Picture nod, too.

    You see the five directors named by the all-powerful DGA will also most likely end up in the Oscar race as well as having their pictures assured a nom, too.manchester-by-the-sea-7

    The other directors named were Kenneth Longergan for “Manchester by the Sea”, Barry Jenkins “Moonlight”, French Canadian Denis Villeneuve for “Arrival” and the man of the hour Damien Chazelle for “La La Land.” Unknown Garth Davis directed “The Lion.” All are first nominees of this, one of Hollywood’s highest honors.

    Many thought Martin Scorsese for “The Silence” and Mel Gibson “Hacksaw Ridge” would score for Old Times Sake, if not for the quality of their current films, not no, they were both bumped by all these first-timers. Oscar isn’t nostalgic any more.

    BAFTA noms out! La La Land Leads with 11. Aaron Taylor-Johnson nominated AGAIN!

    aaron-taylor-johnson-winning-golden-globeWell, the nominations for the BAFTAs, the British equivalent of the Academy Awards, were announced in the middle of the night(EST) last night and it’s no surprise to anyone that “La La Land” leads the pack once again, dancing off with 11 nominations, more than any other film and also being nominated in every single category it possibly could be.la-la-land-7A REAL surprise that it was followed in the nominations with “Nocturnal Animals” at nine. The divisive Tom Ford thriller is going to sound familiar from the Golden Globes because it was Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s upset win in Best Supporting Actor was the first bombshell of the night in a night of bombshells. Taylor-Johnson is playing a serial killer in this dark film, which I’m now predicting will do better with the Academy later this month than people, or pundits, heretofore expected.

    In Supporting Actor, he’s once again up against Hugh Grant for “Florence Foster Jenkins”, Dev Patel(who is really the lead) for “Lion. All these three gentlemen are Brits btw. Mahershala Ali, who WAS the front-runner and good ole boy Jeff Bridges playing a tired and retiring Texas detective in “Hell or High Water.”aaron-taylor-johnson-4Also in play is the very young Lucas Hedges who dazzles in my fave, “Manchester by the Sea” which racked up six noms. Best picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Casey Affleck(who I think will win this, once again, for his haunting, haunted performance as Lee Chandler[he’s won everything else])Best Supporting Actress Michelle Phillips and Best Newcomer, Lucas Hedges. Best Newcomer is a category that the Academy doesn’t have, so to get a nomination for his incredible, funny heart-breaking lost teenager, he’d have to be nominated as Supporting by the Academy. Perhaps he will. I hope he does.

    manchwarwe-by-the-sea-6michelle-willilams-manchester-1Strange to note, but there was ONCE AGAIN a big snub of Denzel Washington’s performance in “Fences.” He’s NEVER been nominated for any BAFTA award in his long, long career, though his magnificent co-star Viola Davis was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. But she’s the sole nomination that “Fences” got another shocker (but not to me.)

    She and Michelle Williams will go toe-to-toe in this category. And Williams has a better shot here than she does back in American against Viola. Because the Brits just don’t have a history of honoring Black performers, believe it or not.viola-davis-fences-1

    They even snubbed Barry Jenkins for director for “Moonlight”! Though they did nominate Black British Actress the brilliant Naomie Harris and of course Mahershala Ali in the Supporting categories for “Moonlight.”

    I would say that these nominations slow down whatever momentum “Moonlight” which won Best Picture the night before last at the Globes, even though it did make the cut, unbelievably, for Best Picture. “Moonlight” got four nominations, BP, Best Original Screenplay(though the Oscars are considering it as “Adapted Screenplay) and the two Supporting nods I just mentioned.

    manchester-by-the-sea-8But Casey Affleck seems to be conquering all before him. And his complex, difficult performance of a man burdened by an overwhelming grief still haunts me to this day. But you love him for all his suffering. And he’s funny, too. I can’t wait to see “Manchester by the Sea” again.

    The big question with the BAFTAS is will they honor something light and musical like “La La Land” or will the heavy weight dramatic films and performances carry the day?

    And they also tend to vote for their own, which means Aaron Taylor-Johnson may just win, again. They really loved “Nocturnal Animals.” They even nominated Jake Gyllenhaal who wasn’t turning up anywhere, for Best Actor!

    jake-gyllenhaal-nocturnal-animalsI’ll discuss Best Actress at the BAFTAs in a subsequent post and for a complete list of the MANY nominees and categories, go, of course, to http://www.awardsdaily.com

    #BAFTAS

    #Nocturnal Animals

    #Aaron Taylor-Johnson

    #Casey Affleck

    #Manchester by the Sea

    Producers Guild Announces Their Nominations

    manchester-by-the-sea-8The Producers Guild has just announced its’ all-important ten nominations. They are listed below alphabetically. And it’s interesting to note that “Silence,” “Nocturnal Animals” and “Jackie” are completely left out. But a super-hero film like “Deadpool” is left IN.

    The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures:

     

    • Arrival

    Producers: Dan Levine, Shawn Levy, Aaron Ryder, David Linde

     

    • Deadpool

    Producers: Simon Kinberg, Ryan Reynolds, Lauren Shuler Donner

     

    • Fences

    Producers: Scott Rudin, Denzel Washington, Todd Black

     

    • Hacksaw Ridge

    Producers: Bill Mechanic, David Permut

     

    • Hell or High Water

    Producers: Carla Hacken, Julie Yorn

     

    • Hidden Figures

    Producers: Donna Gigliotti, Peter Chernin & Jenno Topping, Pharrell Williams, Theodore Melfi

     

    • La La Land

    Producers: Fred Berger, Jordan Horowitz, Marc Platt

     

    • Lion

    Producers: Emile Sherman & Iain Canning, Angie Fielder

     

    • Manchester By the Sea

    Producers: Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward, Chris Moore, Lauren Beck, Kevin Walsh

     

    • Moonlight

    Producers: Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner & Jeremy Kleiner

     

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