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Archive for the ‘Broadway Musicals’ Category

Massive, Historic Oscar Mess-up/Mix-up!?! WTF!?!

oscar-mix-up-1oscar-mix-up-2WTF just happened?!? Warren Beatty, who must be ūüėĮ at least, and Faye Dunaway, who actually read out “La La Land” surely needed their reading glasses. But the card said “Best Actress Emma Stone La La Land.”

But Emma herself has been claiming that she herself has the Best Actress card with her name on it, as well as, of course, her Oscar and showed it on ABC’s post-show which is airing now.

So somebody handed Warren Beatty a DUPLICATE Best Actress card?!? How is that massive a mess-up even possible?!? Chaos! And it was incredibly gracious of the producer of “La La Land” the tall bald guy, whose name I will add in later, (Jordan Horowitz) showed the card that said “Best Picture Moonlight” and the three producers’ names.

This mess-up is all that anyone is talking about instead of about “Moonlight” a historic GAY black film. That cost about as much as the Sunday Times. Perhaps less. That historic moment is totally being buried. In fact, I didn’t hear the word “Gay” mentioned ONCE in the entire program or this ridiculous after-show were the two co-hosts, Lara Spencer and someone who is clearly really drunk. And the whole thing is cringe-worthy and whatisname Anthony Andrews(?) is saying it’s “a conspiracy” and just all of them so awkward and embarrassed that it’s a GAY film that won.

Part of me feels that Warren B. did this on purpose. Or Jimmy Kimmel was playing yet another prank. But whatever and whoever did this someone’s being fired tomorrow, if not sooner. It was so embarrassing and took away completely from “Moonlight”s winning.

I did think that something like this would happen though. Because I kept hearing how so many people didn’t like “La La Land” and it went home with the most Oscars anyway. Six.

Emma Stone’s dress was the best. The first¬†winner wearing Givenchy¬†since Audrey Hepburn in the 50s. It took 17 days to make. Shimmering gold, with beaded fringe. Gorgeous. Pure gold. She looked like the Oscar she won, but a little paler. Almost a rose-hued gold.emma-stone-oscar-dressAnd “Manchester by the Sea” won two. Two big ones. Best Actor for Casey Affleck and Best Original Screenplay for the brilliant¬†Kenneth Lonergan.viola-casey-emma

Kevin O’Connell won after 21 times as an nominee for Sound! This mess-up really leaves a bad taste in the mouth. And “Moonlight” has barely made $20 million. The lowest take ever by a winner I think.

It won three awards. Mahershala Ali, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. Cra-zee, KRAY KRAY KRAY zee night but so happy for Casey Affleck and Emma Stone. And Damien Chazelle won Best Director for “La La Land.” It won Best Actress, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design and the two musical awards.

But it’s a crying shame that this mishap is overshadowing the history that was made tonight. A GAY FILM JUST WON BEST PICTURE!!! How historic is that?!?

Sasha Stone at Awardsdaily is the only one who had an inkling of his, but it was more than a wish, a hope, and yes, Sasha, it happened. An all-black cast in¬†a black directed and written film. That’s history, too. Or should I say African American? I was told you don’t have to use the term African American anymore by a black female reporter at the New York Film Festival this year.

But it’s an achievement. And Sasha was right!

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

Ryan Gosling Wins Best Actor/Musical Comedy for “La La Land”!!!!

la-la-land-6ryan-gosling-1Ryan Gosling wins Best Actor Musical/Comedy for “La La Land”!!! As Expected. He wore a white tux. Very dignified speech, thanking his wife. And now “La La Land” wins Best Screenplay!!! Whoa! Damien Chazelle wins this instead of Best Director probably. That makes FOUR Golden Gloves, as Sophia Vigara called them. Chazelle looks very, very young. To young almost to have done this. Very thin and¬† very nervous. Seems genuinely astonished to have won Best Screenplay.

 

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

“La La Land” Sweeps Oscar Off His Feet. Emma Stone Will Win Best Actress!

la-la-land-1I must say, I resisted “La La Land” for the longest time imaginable. I, a musical comedy queen par excellence, just did not believe the hype, that this small scale musical(seems like there’s only two people in it) couldn’t with one fell swoop bring Musicals back to the movies? And go on to win Every Single Critics Best Picture Award in the book? And have a real shot at winning the Best Picture Oscar, too? And a singing and dancing Emma Stone was going to waltz her way to the Dobly Pavillion and dance off with her own Best Actress Oscar, too? Well, that’s exactly what happened. To this film with the ridiculous title. It’s winning everything.

And I finally saw it and I fell in love with it.

Hard.la-la-land-2

Starring two of the most beautiful people in the world, the aforementioned Emma Stone and the dazzlingly handsome Ryan Gosling, they not only sing their way into your heart, they dance there, too! And Ryan Gosling turns out to be an ace jazz piano player, and plays all the film’s musical numbers himself. Yes! With his own real hands! Brilliant 32- year- old director, a Hollywood wunderkind, if ever there was one. Damien Chazelle might be dancing with more than one Oscar in his hands come Awards Night.

He’s done the impossible. He’s single=handedly brought musicals back to the movies, and he did it last year, too, with the astounding debut film “Whiplash.”

la-la-land-3Which, for all its’ dramatics, was really a musical too. About Jazz, again. And both films are going to go down in Hollywood history as will Stone, Gosling, and Mandy Moore the brilliant choreographer. And yes, there is a third part in this film, too, J.T. Simmons, the sadist drum-teacher of “Whiplash,” which won him an Oscar last year. Here he’s a uber-nasty manager of the nightclub of sorts that our Hero Sebastian, (Gosling) has been reduced to playing Christmas ditties in.

“La La Land” is the perfect film. For this year. It’s total escapism, and that’s what we all need right now. It just seems impossibly wonderful and harks back to all the great Movie Musicals of the 1930 through ’50s.

Being a song and dance man myself (I’ve also written MANY musicals myself, way back when, and an opera, too), I know what Seb (as she calls Gosling) and Mia(Stone) are going through. And it’s total rejection almost all the time. That’s Show Biz. And that’s particularly LA, where I lived for one year, and wondered how the dreams were manufactured that got me there.

“La La Land” is a love poem to LA. And I have never seen it look so gorgeous. The cinematography is candy coated and Ms. Stone wears bold, single colored costumes. After a particularly brutal audition experience, she walks sadly down pinkish Hollywood streets in a royal ¬†blue dress. She later wears a solid yellow. Redheads are NEVER supposed to wear yellow, but Stone does, and she’s forever going to be associated with the “little yellow dress” that she’s seen dancing with Gosling as he falls in love with her.la-la-land-4 la-la-land-5

Oh yes, Stone is playing the ultimate Aspiring LA Actress. She’s so frustrated, she starts writing her own play, a one woman show for herself. I can related. I’ve done that, too. And she doubles her despair by becoming a playwright/actress.

And she doesn’t understand or “get” jazz. So. of course, she’s at cross-purposes with Seb, because he’s the ultimate jazz aficionado, who wants to own his own jazz club some day. She wants to be a star. And somehow, through the magic of movies, they find each other and fall predictably in love, but not toooo predictably.la-la-land-6

“La La Land” starts with a massive traffic jam on a highway(some things never change. I hate cars. I hate smog. And I hated LA until I saw this lovely picture.) The entire stalled group of honking horns and frustrated drivers then inexplicably burst into song and dance. “Another Day of Sun,” which I found a bit much. Seb and Mia don’t sing and dance here. He honks his horn at her. She gives him the finger, and drives off.¬†This I could relate to.la-la-land-7

But “La La Land” is a slow burn. It’s takes it’s time getting to where it wants to go, but boy, oh boy, when it gets there, it just KILLS you. I just couldn’t stop the tears. And in this last part of the movie, Emma Stone goes from being just Emma Stone, who we’ve now seen for years, the almost garden variety movie¬†ingenue¬†doing almost the same raspy-voiced, big-eyed schtick, suddenly transforms into the great Screen Goddess we all hoped she would be, and she turns into an actress of such unexpected¬†depth and poignancy, as well as beauty, that glows like uranium, or more accurately Oscar gold.

She’s Hollywood’s new Princess. The envelope, please.la-la-land-8

E.T.A. “La La Land” just led the pack with SEVEN Golden Globe nominations! More on this later.

Josh Groban Makes Musical Theater History on Bway in Spectactular “Natasha, Pierre…”

Can you believe that schlump is  handsome rock star Josh Groban???

natasha-pierre-1How to describe what is certainly one of the best musical theater experiences I’ll ever have in my life? There are no words. Only superlatives, and they can’t even begin to do justice to the transformative, shocking, heart-breaking, bravura performance Josh Groban gives in the pop-opera “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comic of 1812” now on Broadway at the Imperial Theater. Former home to “Les Miserables” which ran there for decades and I’m predicting this will, too.

And win Josh Groban Best Actor in a Musical and every other Tony in the book. Move over “Hamilton” there’s a new masterpiece in town! (And it’s right next door to “Hamilton” too!)”Natasha, Pierre…” is a tiny sliver of Leo Tolstoy’s 1000 page epic Russian¬†novel “War and Peace” and is as unlikely a musical comedy blockbuster as “Hamilton.” The War that’s “breaking out somewhere out there” is the Napoleonic War against Russia. But in Moscow, the decadent aristocracy is partying like it’s 2016.

They sing “Chandeliers and¬†caviar! The war can’t touch us here!” But of course, it is, led by Napoleon. And¬† as it gets closer and closer the¬† aristocrats & the party crowd are becoming more and more frantic.

 

natasha-pierre-5Those who’ve been following the career of pop star Josh Groban will be stunned by the absolute 360 he’s done with “Natasha, Pierre…” which is as innovative and spectacular a musical, and risky, too, as the astounding performance Groban gives in it. You see, “Natasha, Pierre…” is not your ordinary musical comedy. It’s hardly a comedy at all, though you do feel like you’ve been in the midst of a¬†drunken Russian party that turned into a¬†wild, thumping¬†troika ride.

As a handsome young man, who is now unbelievably only¬†35, one did wonder what Groban, a brilliant musician, lyricist and composer as well as a platinum selling recording artist with four world tours and seven albums under his belt, and millions of fans to boot. Sexy, and angelic¬†at the same time, one wondered what he was going to do when his teenaged good looks and youth appeal began to wear off. Not that it has, but Groban was open-minded and daring enough to take on the completely incongruous¬†and daunting role¬†of Pierre Bezukov, Tolstoy’s depressive, over-weight, bespectacled alter-ego in “War and Peace.” It’s proving to be the role of his career.natasha-pierre-4

At first entrance, on to the stage, flanked by a blinding bank of rock star lighting (by Mimi Lien, whose contribution¬† is inestimable) Groban enters as Pierre with an accordion,¬†then makes his way almost lumbering to center stage, down several stair cases (director Rachel Chavkin has carved up the Imperial into a brand-new, almost intimate¬†cabaret-like space and puts the audience onstage, too!) and you think that middle-aged, almost-fat man CAN’T be Josh Groban, but it is! josh-groban

Heavily bearded with long-grown out, almost greasy, dark,¬†curly locks, he looks nothing like any iteration we’ve seen of Josh Groban¬† before. He’s almost unrecognizable! ¬†He’s totally transmogrified himself into this hulking Russian bear of a character, but that’s exactly what Tolstoy wrote his hero as. He’s the symbol of pre-Napoleonic Russian aristocracy.

He’s depressive. He’s unattractive and he drinks and drinks and drinks.

“I drink and read and drink and read and drink,” he sings in a confused clarion of voice that is less than happy about this inactive plight.

He’s married to a completely¬†inappropriate wife, the witchily attractive Helene, who is referred to in the opening number simply as¬†“Helene’s a slut.” Amber Gray plays Helene with exactly the right blend of nastiness, sexuality and charm. as she sashays ¬†her way through the night seductively telling our heroine, the virginal Natasha (Denee Benton) that she is “Charmante, Charmante.”amber-greyHer brother, who turns out to be a¬†dastard of the first water, Anatole, is portrayed with a devil-ish¬† blend of blond good looks, rock star pompadour hair, and VERY tight military pants by Lucas Steele. “Anatole’s hot” the opening chorus sings. And who are we to disagree?natasha-pierre-2He’s out to elope, or basically kidnap, Natasha. He’s already married and clearly an irresistible and untrustworthy slime-ball. Anatole’s seduction of Natasha, who thinks he’s going to marry her, forms the plot that is as wildly complicated as the novel itself. But don’t be scared of Tolstoy. You can follow him.natasha-pierre-6

 

Dave Malloy, who I saw play Pierre originally three years ago,¬†wrote the music, lyrics and adaptation. It is all sung-through, so yes, it is indeed an opera, but it’s only a tiny sliver of Tolstoy. Volume 2, Part 5, to be exact. I saw it first in a circus tent in the Meat Packing District of the West Village, where they served a Russian meal to you while seated at cabaret tables(see above.) It was dazzling, even then.

Phillipa Soo was astounding as Natasha, and went on to become a Broadway star as Eliza Hamilton in “Hamilton.” But Denee Benton, who plays Natasha now, just glows and glows and grows on you, too, the absolute picture of willful innocence and stubbornness as she falls in love with, then insists on her ill-advised elopement with bad boy Anatole.

A core of miraculously agile, vocally and physically, actors continued with the show from the tent¬† they called Kazino to Broadway, including Amber Gray, Brittain Ashford and Grace McLean. In that cast I first¬†saw, Josh Canfield of “Survivor: San Juan del Sur” fame, was equally charismatic as Anatole.

But it’s Groban that kicks this show upstairs and into theatrical history with his astonishing performance and perfect voice. To hear someone who has been called¬†a choir boy for years with his perfect pitch and miraculous tenor, tear into the gutsy, difficult, challenging, sometimes discordant¬†vocals of “Natasha, Pierre…” is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Drunken, depressed, over-weight, near-sighted and scruffy though his Pierre convincingly¬†is, his golden tones ring out in the night(and twice weekly at matinees.) His respect for the other actors is evident as he also blends seamlessly into their tight ensemble.

Josh Groban, genius that he is, has perspicaciously plunged himself into the midst of an equally amazing group of fellow-artists, who are geniuses, too, in their own ways. Did I mention Mimi Lien’s lighting? She’s the recipient of a MacArthur Genius grant. So it’s official. And of course, there’s a¬†killer solo that composer Malloy newly¬†wrote just¬†for Groban that they call “Dust and¬†Ashes”, but I would call “This is how I die?” as Pierre berates himself for¬†his intellectual¬†inaction as “there’s a war¬†going on out there somewhere.”

I’ve seen “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” three times now and I can’t wait to see it again!

Groban has committed an entire year to staying in this historic production and helping it thrive. It’s been making a million dollars a week.

#Josh Groban

# Broadway musicals

#Natasha, Pierre…

#Tony Awards

# Broadway

 

 

“La La Land” Best Picture NYFilm Critics, Isabelle Hupert, Michelle Williams Best Actresses

michelle-williams-1The New York Film Critics finished their annual announcement of winners with “La La Land” named as Best Picture and Isabelle Hupert as Best Actress for “Elle”& “The Things to Come.” Michelle Williams was cited as Best Supporting Actress for “Manchester by the Sea” and also her role as a bemused house-wife in one part of the three-part “Certain Women.”la-la-land-1isabelle-hupert-1By honoring both “Elle” and “The Things to Come”, the NYFCA is really acknowledging Huppert’s towering career in French films, where she is an icon. Both films are in French. This definitely gives her a leg up in the very competitive Best Actress race at the Oscars.

She’s also among the nominees for Best Actress for the Broadcast Films Critics. I’ll get to them later today. It’s an avalanche of nominees. But off the top of my head, Best Actress of course is Emma Stone for “La La Land”, Natalie Portman for “Jackie”, Amy Adams for “Arrival” and Annette Bening for “20th Century Women.” The BFCA had six slots to accommodate all these talented ladies, but the Oscars only have five so one of them will be left out.

I can also quickly note that once again “La La Land” lead the field with 12 nominations. Meaning this year is going to be a very “Slumdog Millionaire” year where one film just walks all over everything else, and never misses a beat on its’ road to the Oscar for Best Picture. More later.

Got to see a Broadway show tonight. “Oh Hello.” Until then Oh, good-bye!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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