a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for the ‘Canada’ Category

Golden Globe Winner Sam Rockwell Rocks SNL!

Talk about timing! As the NBC promos all night were announcing before the show came on at 11:30 pm, that “red-hot Sam Rockwell” was hosting tonight’s show. Fresh off his surprise win at the Golden Globes on Sunday night, his garnering their Best Supporting Actor Award for “Three Billboards Outside Redding Missouri” was mentioned to maximum effect.

His best segment was his Opening Monologue which turned into a song and dance number ( yes, he can do both, and he’s a terrific dancer, too ) about how his award this week,( and by implication, his double win at the Critics Choice Award on Thursday night )  he sang how he’s  now gone from “A character actor to a leading man.” And this number hit just the right note of self-satire, and also  SNL’s clear championing of him in this happy moment of transition. He’ll no doubt be back there to host many, many more shows. And hooray for that!

I knew audiences knew he could play anything, act anything, and in “Three Billboards” he practically does.

But I’m sure he surprised many by singing and dancing and busting a move, as they say. Grabbing a top hat and cane and tapping off the tiny SNL stage into the audience, down the aisle and into the off-stage areas of NBC hallways, who have the room for all this action.

It concluded with him jumping on a camera crane and being hoisted aloft above the cheering, delighted crowd, as literally we all saw his star rising before us. It’s like SNL was determined to hand him an Oscar onstage. Which, by setting him up this way on the show as the host who was about to become a star, he BECAME a star literally right before our eyes. Bravo! Well done by all!

And good luck on next Sunday, Jan.21 at the SAG Awards where he again is up for his extraordinary performance in this extraordinary film.

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“Three Billboards” is also up for Best Ensemble and so he could actually win TWO SAG awards a week from Sunday night. It’s feeling like a coronation and I think it is.

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Oscar Xmas Shocker!”All the Money In the World” Is One of The Best Films of the Year!

Never expecting the (nearly) last film to screen before Christmas Day would turn out to be one of the Best Films of the Year, I was totally blown away by “All the Money in the World”! Color me surprised! I should’ve known.  Master Filmmaker Ripley Scott, 80 and Oscarless still, has directed a rip-roaring’, edge of your seat, snatched from the headlines thriller. With two Oscar- seeking performances by three-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams and Octogenarian Oscar Winner 88-year-old Christopher Plummer. Based on the true story from the ’70s of J. Paul Getty’s grandson’s kidnapping, it’s  a white-knuckle thriller that holds you in its death-defying grip and squeezes you and squeezes you,barely letting you breathe for its over two-hour plus length. It was fantastic. It’s as dizzying as standing on the top of Mt. Everest.

At times, Scott’s dare-devil-pacing has your mind racing like a speed-demon at the Annapolis 500, a steeple chase that is going to straight to hell in a handbasket. A handbasket that contains Getty’s captive grandson’s severed ear. And yes, Scott does show you that horrific scene in all its Grand Guignol glory. He doesn’t shy away from it.

It’s sort of the point of this horrible morality tale, where the real villain is money. Getty is not just the richest man in the world. He’s the richest man who ever lived.And his J. Paul Getty is one of Plummer’s greatest performances and is currently nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor.  As is Michelle Williams for her brave, fearless,angry,defiant daughter-in-law, Abigail Harris, whose son is the one the Mafia captures.Miche;lle WIlliams 3

Assuming it’ll be an easy-peasy few million from the old man, it turns out to be a night-mare beyond all imagining for her. Williams gives a towering performance and matches her nemesis beat-for-beat. Her nemesis is not The Mob, but her greedy, parsimonious father-in-law, who doesn’t give a fig for his godson’s life or his ear. Even though the teenager is named John Paul Getty III.

I hope Williams amazing performance is not lost on audiences,who are most likely to know “All the Money in the World” as the film that recently disgraced Kevin Spacey was replaced in. The nine DAY re-shoot was accomplished at the same pace “All the Money in the World” itself maintains. Feverish and seamless. You’d never know that this kind of major revision was done, and done so well, and Plummer just shines, shines, shines. Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg as the Getty henchman, flew back to reshoot the “new” scenes AT THEIR OWN EXPENSE. and both of them hold their own, and more, with the astounding Plummer.I saw his “King Lear” on Bway. His Getty is just as good if  not better.

It is photographed, at first, at the fountains of Trevi in Rome, in a dolce vita black and white that gradually changes into a de-saturated, greenish pallette, that is – the color of money. Plummer as Getty, at the end of the film, seems so green and thin, he’s almost turned into a dollar bill himself. The events in “All the Money In the World” are at times sickening, grotesque and frightening. It painstakingly shows the toll that all that money takes. On everyone and everything it touches.

Only Michelle Williams’ valiant Abigail Harris makes you care what happens to her hapless long-haired stoner of a son( played as a marvelous, but resourceful blank by a young actor named Charlie Plummer, strangely no relation to his well-known grand-father). The mother here is wonderful. The kidnapped grandson is nothing. Nobody cares about what happens to him. Only his heroic mother.

“All the Money In the World ” is unquestionably one of the best fims of the year, and is going right into my Year’s Top Ten.

 

 

Oscar Supporting Actress Possibilties Are Piling Up!

It’s mid-October and although New York has been enjoying an unseasonably mild fall, Mother Nature is trying to deceive us that Oscar season is not fully upon us BUT IT IS! And even the said-to-be-sparse Supporting Actress category is beginning to be piled up with potential nominees. All of them brilliant I’m happy to say.

I know one thing for sure. There are three actresses whose shots are better than others. First I’m going to start off with the least known of them. The beauteous British actress Juno Temple, who is playing full-tilt Brooklyn bombshell, Carolina, in Woody Allen’s new wonderful “Wonder Wheel” which I just saw as the closing night feature at the New York Film Festival.

Always one of honor his actresses of choice with great roles that become them, I say Temple gets in, because of the same thing happened to another little known Britisher Sally Hawkins. When she co-starred in “Blue Jasmine” with the soon-to-be Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, every Academy member WATCHED THAT SCREENER and saw how marvelous Hawkins was as Jasmine’s working class, comforting sister. The same thing will happen to Juno Temple, too.

Whatever they think of the film, Temple is getting Oscar-buzzed praise.

So is recent Tony winner for Best Actress Laurie Metcalf. Super superb as Saoirse Ronan’s put upon Mom in Great Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird.” Metcalf is having a banner year with the Tony win for “Doll’s House, Part Two” on Broadway and now actually having a juicy sympathetic screen role as the frantic nurse practitioner mother of wayward teenage, Lady Bird.

Because Metcalf is such a beloved industry figure, having won multiple Emmys as Roseanne’s sister on “Roseanne,” she really has the edge here. And her role as Lady Bird’s Mom has got Oscar written all over it. The kind of part that Metcalf has never really had before on film. AND she’s never even been nominated before! Believe it or not.

I would say she has the edge. And it’s definitely

Louise Penny’s New #13 Gamache ~ “Glass Houses”

I wonder what’s going to happen to Louise Penny’s latest novel, hot off the presses, “Glass Houses”? It’s her 13th in a row Inspector Gamache novel. And USUALLY she hits it out of the ball park every time, but this time…Well, she’s a crime/mystery writer the world has fallen in love with, even though she’s an Anglo-Canadian writing about our beloved Montreal and the province of Quebec, where she lives.

“Glass Houses” was written very fast. It seems like the last one “A Great Reckoning” only came out last week, but actually it was last year. But still, a new book, EVERY year! I mean, that’s an incredible achievement by any definition and she’s been called “the new Agatha Christie”, which is also an incredible accolade. (She’s won Agatha Award six times!) And she sells! She tends to debut at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list.

And it’s really difficult to write about her Chief Inspector Gamache books, because you don’t want to spoil anything. But I will say this. This is my least favorite novel of hers, so far. And I’ve read them all!

Don’t worry die-hard Gamache fans he’s very much front and center here, and Penny has created a great character in him, her lead detective. He’s retired now and living in Three Pines, the wonderful, mythical Quebec township town she’s created. It’s not real, but it’s setting is continuously beguiling and I really want to eat at the Bistro of Gabri and Olivier, right now!

Food is mentioned often, but not as much in “Glass Houses” but the Bistro Gamache fans NEED to know is where most of the action, and the eating, mais oui, happens. And Kudos to Penny for putting two very original gay Bistro/B&B owners front and center in her books. Gamache has a gaggle of sorts. What’s the French word for “Posse”? Maybe it’s posse, too, and they are all on hand, and there’s so many of them now that the ensemble tends to push the new characters almost out of the book completely.

It must sound divine to Penny fans, but — this time…
“Glass Houses” I found confusing. There. I said it. You need to know that it switches back and forth in time and seasons and locales. It’s hard to follow, until you realize that the trial that takes up half the book, is set in Montreal in the summer. Just WHAT and WHO is on trial for WHAT is also confusing. It’s made clear at the end but by then my patience with Gamache & co. was more than a little frazzled.

Then her masterpiece Ruth Zardo the crazy, foul-mouthed Octogenarian poet whose pet duck Rosa comes on. And then Gamache’s PERFECT wife Reine-Marie starts exerting her charm, and they all dine at the beautiful, homey bistro and you realize that Louise Penny is really above criticism at this point.

Especially, considering she wrote this big 400 page tome as her beloved husband, Michael, in real life, was dying.

Which kind of exemplifies the dark, threatening figure that keeps appearing on the Village Green one cold, rainy November day…Wait! How did we get to be in November? I thought it was July! Well, “Glass Houses” keeps switching back and forth, yes, confusingly.

Penny really returns to form(she really is an exquisite writer) in of all places the Author’s Note, which is at the end of the entire book. She writes feelingly about her husband’s death and ends with the lovely thought “The final thanks is to you, my friend. For your company.The world is brighter for your presence.
All shall be well.”

MICHAEL AR0NOV wins Best Featured Actor at the Tonys!

My former guest Michael Aronov just won his first Tony for “Oslo”. A total surprise! But my god, does he deserve it! And he used to live in my building! *faints* Very moving speech about this parents and his one-room apartment which if he entered by the door, he was “in danger of flying out the window.” TRUE STORY! Nobody predicted Michael but I want to link to my interview with him eight years ago where I said, “He was one of the great actors of his generation.” And now everybody knows I was right! http://www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

I think this means “Oslo” now a lock to win Best Play.

Kevin Spacey sang AND danced an electric opening number spoofing all the nominated Best Musicals. Hysterical! The TONYS 2017 off to a good start! I’m amazed!

Laura Linney, Cynthia Nixon BOTH Win Outer Critics! Bette Midler, Andy Karl, Kevin Kline, Danny DeVito, too!

Present Laughter 3LIttle Foxes 16As I predicted only yesterday, BOTH Laura Linney AND Cynthia Nixon won awards for their unforgettable roles in the double-cast “Little Foxes.” It was the Outer Critics Circle, who first declared this double victory, which I think will be repeated at both the Drama Desk Awards AND the Tonys, if history is any indicator.

But of course, this is an historic first, the double-casting of female leads in one terrific show. Men have done this before, historically, but not women. Linney won for Best Actress for her Regina-with-a-heart, and Cynthia for the Supporting role of the sad Aunt Birdy. But the actresses both switch parts at alternating performances, so they really were BOTH being honored for BOTH parts, too. As well they should be!Bette Midler and “Hello Dolly” also won. Who could stop her? As did Andy Karl for “Groundhog Day.” “Come from Away” the Canadian Musical about 9/11 won for Best Musical. Jenn Collella, the only character with a song to herself in “Come From Away,” got Best Featured Actress in a musical for her feisty pilot, and Gavin Creel got Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his high-stepping Cornelius Hackl in “Hello, Dolly!”Andy Karl Ground Hog Day 1 as I predicted he would.

The Outer Critics Circle made up from critics who write for newspapers and websites outside the Tri-State area. Their reviews are read outside New York City and all over the world. This redoubtable, historic group, the O.C.C., are always the first to announce their awards, and often predict how the following  theater awards, the Drama Desks, the Tonys, will go, especially in the Actors’ categories. Oh! And Danny DeVito, in his Broadway debut, as the kibbutzing  furniture appraiser in “The Price” won for Best Featured Actor in a Play, and Kevin Klein for “Present Laughter” as Best Actor in a Play.

The Outer Critics have a long history of awarding Off Broadway plays in their separate categories. The winners this year were “If I Forget” for Best New Off Broadway Play and “The Band’s’ Visit,” which is moving to Broadway next season, won Best New Off-Broadway Musical. Kudos to all!

For a complete List of winners go to OuterCritics.org.

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So Sorry to Report That “Significant Other” Is Closing

So sorry to report that my favorite new drama of the year so far, “Significant Other” is closing this weekend. I loved it. I thought it was powerful. I thought it was original. I thought it was disturbing.

I also knew that it was a hard sell to Broadway audiences, who were perceiving as a light comedy about Millennials and their penchant for elaborate Bachelorette parties and expensive bridal showers. While those events did occur in “Significant Other,” they were not being celebrated, they were being depicted as nails in the coffin of a semi-immature gay man, whose marriages of his three best girl friends were seen by him as a betrayal of his friendships with them.

“Significant Other” explored that heretofore untouched delusion that only a VERY young gay man could have about his heterosexual girl friends. It showed that these women as superficial and self-centered as they were, were going to be better friends to him, long term, than the gay male alternatives Gideon Glick’s character was being presented with.

He was bound to be left terribly lonely and THAT was what “Significant Other” was about. It was a drama that addressed a topic I had never seen explored before in a gay play. Just what IS friendship? And is friendship with heterosexual women a walk in the park for a gay man? In this case certainly not.

And Gideon Glick suffers mightily for the short-sightedness of his silly, youthful choice. Yup. A life of loneliness lies ahead. But I applaud producer Jeffrey Richards and director Trip Culllman for bringing this thorny play by Joshua Harmon to Broadway. It was a brave thing to do under any circumstances. I still say “Bravo.”

I wonder if it will get any of the Tony Awards or certainly nominations that had it run longer it might have. It certainly deserved to.

Also “In Transit” one of the worst musicals I’ve ever seen, a capella or not, is closing, and good riddance.

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