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Golden Globe Nominations Out!”Shape of Water” leads with 7!

The Golden Globes Nominations for this year have just been announced. “The Shape of Water” leads the pack with seven. Nominations for three of its actors, Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spenser (pictured above). Spencer plays mute Hawkins best friend at work. They are both janitresses, Also nominated for Best Supporting Actor was Dainel Jenkins as Hawkins gay next-door neighbor.

Both young lovers for “Call Me By Your Name” followed “Shape” with five Nominations. Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer both got nominated. And the much acclaimed supporting performance of Michael Stuhlbarg, as Chalamet’s supportive father did not. 

Instead we saw Christopher Plummer nominated for his last minute replacement performance for “All the Money In the World.’ He was the down-to-the-wire, edited in at the last minute replacing the beleaguered Kevin Spacey.

The most diverse category by far was Best Supporting Actress which featured rock singer -turned-actress Mary J. Blige ( Mudbound”)  as well as Octavia Spencer and Viet Namese actress Hung Chou for “Downsizing.”Mary J. Blige 1

For a complete list see Indiewire.com


Annette Bening’s Greatest Performance Yet in “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool”

Annette Bening, one of our most enduring film stars, is better than she’s ever been  in “Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool” and in any other year the Oscar-less also ran would be awarded the Best Actress trophy for her astonishing portrayal of dying film star Glorida Graham.

Graham was a handful by all contemporary accounts, and was as tempestuous in real life as the characters she played in the movies. And she drank. She wasn’t Marilyn Monroe, a rival, but she did have her own Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in “The Bad and the Beautiful.”What Annette Bening does here in this straightforward biopic is to bring us into Graham’s vulnerability as well as her thwarted talent, as the chain smoking she has been doing all her life begins to take its awful toll.

It’s in her last years that she begins to take on a May-December flirtation with this young, YOUNG man, the now-hunky and all grown-up “Billy Elliot” star Jamie Bell.

The setting is Liverpool, where my father and grandparents were from, and Annette as Gloria gets more and more involved with Bell to the point where he invites her home to his humble Liverpudlian abode where he introduces her to his caring, no-nonsense parents. His mother is played by the tremendous Julie Walter, who played the ballet teacher so memorably in “Billy Elliot.”

She and Gloria develop quite a warm friendship and Graham’s twenty year plus age difference doesn’t bother either of them, as it doesn’t matter to Bell.And this is all a true story! Based on the book by the actual young actor himself. Very “My Week with Marilyn,”

And then Gloria gets lung cancer and the film turns dark. And very moving as events build to their tragic inevitable climax.

Bening is convincing in every aspect of the doomed Graham’s life. It is her greatest performance, and in any other year, she would be finally awarded the Best Actress Oscar that has eluded her all her life. She’s been nominated four times!

This year, however, has seen a plethora of brilliant actresses storming the gates of AMPAS and there’s only five slots. Which seem destined to be taken by Sairose Ronan( Lady Bird),  Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water), Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) and Meryl Streep (The Post).

There’s that elusive fifth slot that Bening USUALLY would slide inevitably into but this year there are great performances like Kate Winslet’s in “Wonder Wheel” that might not make it. Margot Robbie of “I, Tonya” is supposed to be the fifth nominee, but I wonder…

Manola Dargis of “The New York Times” slammed her five ways to Sunday just today, so there MAY be room for Bening if Kate Winslet doesn’t slip into Fifth Position..

But if Annette Bening does get in here, her performance as Gloria Grahame, in “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” is her best ever, she COULD win. There’s a great positive sentiment surrounding Bening. She’s made a success of her long-term marriage to Warren Beatty. That ALONE is worthy of a major award. AND she’s now President of the Academy itself. That could cut both ways. But Annette completely won me over. You’ll never be able to look at a Gloria Grahame film again without bursting into tears. As I did.


AFI Announces Its TOP TEN Films of 2017

AFI (American Film Institute)s Ten Best Films just announced its Ten Best Films of 2017. And they are in no particular order, except maybe alphabetical ~ Call Me By Your Name


Get Out

Lady Bird

The Big Sick

The Florida Project

The Post

The Shape of Water

Three Bill Boards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Wonder Woman

The only real shocker here, for me, is the inclusion of the GRRRRREAAT “Florida Project”, so edgy…and also of course, “Wonder Woman.” “The Darkest Hour” didn’t qualify because it was a majorly British financed production. Also MIA is Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Phantom Thread,” starring Daniel Day Lewis is what HE says his Goodbye to Acting.

Farewell Performance? I don’t think so.

The Best Picture Oscar List will be a little different but not much. The AMPAS voters are allowed to choose from 5-10 Best Picture candidates. Actually, though their ballots only contain five spots. Thereby hangs the mystery…It usually rounds out to seven or eight.

Keep tuning in as things clear up a bit as the Awards Season ploughs on.

But I’ll take a wild guess and say that as many as three and maybe four of these films won’t make it. I hope they all do, but…




Broadcast Film Critics Give 16 Nominations to “The Shape of Water!!!!”

The Broadcast Film Critics who are also known as the Critics Choice Awards have given an unbelievable boost to the beautiful “Shape of Water” with a unprecented SIXTEEN Nominations! The BFCA as it’s known is populated with people like me. People who are on the air and online, too, as I am. And what distinguishes them, apart from their work, is that they are people who actually DO see the movies. But this monumental preliminary win for “The Shape of Water is nothing short of astounding, and wonderful. It’s Oscar chances just went through the roof, since the BFCA is the group that most closely aligns with the Academy Awards themselves.

It was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress ~ Sally Hawkins, Best Director Guillermo Del Toro, Best Supporting Actress~ Octavia Spenser, Best Supporting Actor ~Daniel Jenkins and an ocean full of other awards.

See the complete list at http://www.awardsdaily.com

“Lady Bird” Wins Best Picture & Best Actress, Timothee Chalamet Best Actor from New York Film Critics!

It’s the little film set in High School about a way-ward teen’s problems with her well-meaning Mom “Lady Bird” that just won the prestigious New York Film Critics Award for Best Picture, as well as Saiorse Ronan’s star turn that is turning her into a star as Lady Bird herself that won Best Actress. Best Actor went to Timothee Chalamet for HIS heart-breaking boy who is finding out he loves a man in “Call Me By My Own Name.” Newsflash! Both of these young actors are playing teens and both are only 21!

The New York Film Critics awarded Best Director to “Florida Project”s Sean Baker and Willem Dafoe won Best Supporting Actor, as the warm hearted motel manager also for “Florida.”

Let it be noted that Laurie Metcalf, the put-upon Mom of “Lady Bird” was named Best Supporting Actress and once again Willem Dafoe was named Best Supporting Actor for “The Florida Project.” Pretty much solidifying Oscar nominations for all these great performers and their films.

The New York Film Critics also named BPM as Best Foreign Film. And I want to just add that I saw soooo many of these award-winning films at the New York Film Festival this year. “BPM,” “The Florida Project,”‘Lady Bird,”and “Call Me By Your Own Name.”

For a complete list of all the winners see http://www.awardsdaily.com

Greta Gerwig is a genius! Her first film “Lady Bird” Is Brilliant! Will be nominated for many Oscars!

Greta Gerwig is a genius! There are no ifs and or buts about it, she just IS! Her new film “Lady Bird” is so brilliant, you can’t believe it. And she wrote it and directed it, too! Superbly! We’ve all known her as an actress. She emerged in her early 20s to become the Queen of Mumblecore. But she’s the Queen of Mumblecore no more! In her 2O’s, she seemed to be in every single Indie film that was happening during “The Mumblecore Period”. I never thought she was mumbling. Her light as a quirkily original young actress, always outshone most of her films. One notable exception was Whit Stillman’s witty,wicked take on college sororities,”Damsels in Distress.” Stillman and Gerwig seemed a perfect match. Later she began to turn up in more adult roles, like Mike Mills’ “20th Century Woman” and last year’s “Jackie.”

Indeed her style and wit seems the most similar to Stillman’s fizzy blend of champagne and real pain.

“Lady Bird”s big shocker and also its redemption is that is based in HIGH SCHOOL! Yes, it’s a coming of age story. That old trope which seems as ancient as time immemorial. A young teenage age girl struggles to find herself and to come to terms with her harassed embarrassment of a nagging mother. How cliché is that? But in Gerwig’s amazing young hands she turns this time-worn epic into something quite wonderful and new. In that alone, it’s amazing. It transcends genre, time and place.

She seems to have invented teen-ager-dum, or rather re-invented it. Set in the mid-1980s, we see Lady Bird fighting with her frazzled Mom. Sairose Ronan plays Lady Bird and Laurie Metcalf her Mom, and BOTH are going to the Oscars this year  with a ton of other nominations. Including, yes, Gerwig herself, breaking in to the male-only best directing category as well for sure the Best Original Screenplay category.And young Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, who plays Lady Bird so convincingly at the same time, she seems to be channeling Gerwig herself. As is we’re seeing a halo-gram projection of Gerwig’s inner life. As she desperately tries to escape her ho-hum life in Sacramento “the mid-west of California” and go to a college in the East where it seems everything is “more exciting in a place like, y’know, Connecticut.’

In the first amazing scene in the film, we see her fighting with her mother about this who is adamant that she go to a Community College in Sacramento. Lady Bird screams and jumps out of the moving vehicle. And that’s just the first scene of the movie!

We’re with Lady Bird every step of the way, as she continues her fight in every aspect of her life in Sacramento. Especially the hide-bound Catholic school she attends where all the students have to wear the traditional uniform of the blue  plaid skirt and ugly, flat-chested navy blue jumper.

Lady Bird 10

How did Gerwig pull off this amazing double hat trick of writing & directing a major motion picture? At the press conference at the NYFF last month, she told a room of spell-bound press (pictured above ^) that being ”a film director is what I always wanted to be” And that as a much-employed actress, she was always studying just how all the great directors she was working with were doing it. An apt student, very much like Lady Bird herself, she clearly didn’t miss a trick.

And it has to be said that young(21) Saiorse Ronan is something of a genius herself. She plays the title role so that you love her AND hate her. She’s died her hair nearly every color of the rainbow, but it’s not becoming.

Lady Bird 11And she’s the first potential Best Actress nominee that has every played the leading role in a film with a full face of realistic teenaged acne. Ronan at her early age has been nominated TWICE already. For Best Actress just last year in “Brooklyn,” and for playing the villainous child Bryony Tallis in “Atonement.” And she’s really quite a good-looking young lady. Ingenue! Oscar can’t resist that word. Ingenue! She might be the one that takes the Oscar home this year. AND she’s Irish playing a convincing Californian….

And now that the film “Lady Bird” itself is such a success on every level, I don’t think we’ll be seeing much of Gerwig herself in front of the camera. She’s going to continue on with writing and directing and I hope she never stops! Her talent seems unfathomable and endless. I can’t wait to see what she does next!

Marvelous,Classy Remake of Agatha Christie’s Classic “Murder on the Orient Express”

Kenneth Branagh’s classy, glossy re-make of Agatha Christie’s classic mystery “Murder on the Orient Express” is great, grand fun. It’s considered perhaps second only to  her “And Then There Were None,” it keeps being brought back to us each time with more style than ever. No matter how glossy, it’s “Orient Express”s superior and unique plot and plotting that holds us all enthralled and trapped by its’ ingenuity, as Christie’s characters are trapped by a snowy landslide somewhere in Eastern Europe in the 1930s.

Kenneth Branagh has decided to have fun with it, and so we do, too. I would say David Suchet’s TV version of it was the darkest one, also great. And Sydney Lumet’s glamourous film version with Lauren Bacall, Vanessa Redgrave, Rachel Roberts and Ingrid Bergman  all on board with Albert Finney at the helm as the beefiest Poirot in 1974.

Bergman seemed terribly mis-cast and under-used in the small part of the Missionary, but she was so incongruous as the plain, ex-governess who loved her “little brown babies, she won her third Oscar. This time in Supporting. And shocked everyone Oscar night that year.

I don’t know if Penelope Cruz, now cast here as a Spanish missionary, is going to repeat that hat-trick. But Michelle Pfeiffer might. Pfeiffer’s part has considerably been built up, and indeed, she has enough scene stealing and scenery chewing moments to qualify as this year’s Best Supporting Actress.

She is Mrs. Hubbard, an aging film star on the decline, who shrieks and cries and over-acts her way through “Express,” to the point where I almost thought that Branagh had re-written this adaption to make her the guilty party. She certainly ACTS, or over-acts her way to jail, if indeed she is the one who did it.

IT, being the murder of Johnny Depp’s horrible henchman, but no, Branagh didn’t touch the bed-rock of Christie’s great murderous conceit. Depp is perfectly vile as the soon to be dispensed with Ratchet. Josh Gad has a very large part, too, as Depp’s vile, scheming secretary. Branagh even get to chase Gad as he tries to escape at one point in the movie.

I’ve never seen Hercule Poirot move as much as he does in this movie, and Josh Gad, too, for that matter. Poirot has fight scenes, incongruous as they may be, and a broken heart from an ex-girl friend. Strict students of Christie and Poirot may object to these *gasp* liberties that Branagh has taken.His ridiculously gigantic moustaches that seems so heavy and overdone, he might at any moment fall face forward from its weight.

But while I noted these disparities, they did not stop my enjoyment of this very enjoyable romp.

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