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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

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Oscar Chances of Casey Affleck,”Manchester by the Sea” Boosted by Early Critics Awards

Well, the first critics awards of the season have come rollin’ in, and the Big Winner so far is Casey Affleck, who has just racked up Best Actor from the Gotham Awards and the National Board of Review. Right behind him is his beautiful film “Manchester by the Sea” and I couldn’t be happier or prouder of this fierce little Indie’s overcoming all the studio behemoths to reap these much-deserved rewards.

“Manchester by the Sea” also was just named Best Picture of the Year by the National Board of Review. It landed in its’ top Ten Films and Lucas Hedges as Affleck’s truculent but funny nephew got Best Breakthrough Performer also for “Manchester.”manchester-by-the-sea-5

It’s such a good film. And its’ filmmaker, playwright/director Kenneth Lonergan is one of the best talents we have working today. “Manchester” is a film that grows in the memory. It lasts. It stays with you, as all great films do. It’s a comedy that contains its’ characters going from one funeral after the other.

To reveal more of the plot is to spoil it, so I’ll stop here and say that Casey Affleck’s performance of the grief-stricken Boston janitor certainly deserves these accolades and I’m sure he’s got more on the way. No more “Ben’s little Brother” fleck really comes into his own in “Manchester.”Such a searing portrait of grief, I don’t think we’ve ever seen on the screen quite so indelibly.

Also gaining some surprising and much needed traction from these early awards is “Moonlight”s Naomie Harris, who I’ve been mentioning over and over in previous Oscar blogs as the crack addicted mother of the central character.

naomie-harris-1

Also rollin’ in to the National Board of Review is Jeff Bridges’ nominated for his crusty, West Texas retiree lawmaker in “Hell or Highwater” for Best Supporting Actor. hell-or-high-water-5The Independent Spirits nominated Ben Foster also from “Hell” in this same slot, but not Bridges. And as previously stated the entire ensemble of “Moonlight”s actors received a special award for excellence at the Gothams.

“Moonlight” was also the Big Winner at the Gothams last night with four awards. It’s Out Gay writer/director Barry Jenkins scoring in both categories.

It’s also interesting to note that neither of the millennial actresses who are considered front-runners Emma Stone for “La La Land” and Natalie Portman for “Jackie” won in this busy past 24 hours. French actress Isabelle Huppert triumphed for “Elle” at the Gothams and six-time Oscar loser Amy Adams won the NBR Best Actress Award for “Arrival.” Could this FINALLY be her year?arrival-1

For a list of all Gotham Award Winners and the National Board of Review’s, too, go to http://www.awardsdaily.com.

#Casey Affleck

#Oscars

#Manchester by the Sea

#Lucas Hedges

#Naomie Harris

 

Impact of Election on Oscar Race

fences-6I was just about to write a rave review of the wonderful, important revival of “March of the Falsettos” and then The Election happened and turned the world, and my brain and everyone else’s upside down.

I tried to write about it but I couldn’t. I was in such deep shock. Like when you have a serious fall, as I did recently, and it wasn’t until hours later, or was it a day later, that the real pain kicked in, and I was reminded I had fallen backwards onto a fire-hydrant. It took four or five really strong women(In town for the marathon, I’m guessing) to pull me back up and set me on my feet.

Yes, my reaction to The Election was just as severe as that, as disappointed for anyone who voted for Hillary. I can’t believe it happened. I’m still processing it. And so is the country. It’s something that I can’t snap out of but just being depressed and angry isn’t constructive. Hillary Clinton had nothing but a positive message. Maybe there is something good inside Donald Trump. Well, first of all, he’s a native New Yorker. As I am. And that counts for something.

After coming out of a Whole Foods on Union Square, I ran into hundreds of protesting young people. I got on a bus. It took quite awhile for the big New York City Bus to get through the noisy crowd of protesters. They made me smile though. I knew what they were feeling. I had done this, too, in my youth. Protesting the Viet Nam War. Civil Rights. Free Nelson Mandella. Gay Rights. Aids. There’s been a lot to protest, always peacefully. Make your voice heard.I was happy to see them there.LGBY handsThis made me think of what a terrible day it was when Ronald Reagan got elected. I thought it was it the end of the world. It wasn’t. The same way when Bush after Bush after Bush entered the White House. Until Bill Clinton. Until Barack Obama.

I’ve been thinking of the night when “Brokeback Mountain” lost the Oscar to “Crash.” Sasha Stone and I were both disconsolate that night and so was everyone else on Oscarwatch. We thought we’d never get through it. I was never going to watch the Oscars again. But I did. We got through it because we were together.

Sasha did everything she could think of to help Hillary. I’m still shocked, and sickened, but she’s probably more shocked and more sick. She and Assistant Editor Ryan both added Rodham as their middle names.

But, as with “Brokeback”, she went back to work and felt back. I did, too. Over the years I’m happy to report that I developed a friendly relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway and Michelle s and Williams and now Ang Lee, who did win his first Oscar for “Brokeback” by the way. I loved his new “Billy Lynn’s Long Half Time Walk.”

But all those disappointments and depressions and shocks were way worse than this. Maybe as much as I loved Hillary, and I still do, I just knew, I just KNEW that America was never going to elect a woman to the Oval Office.

And now this happened. Donald Trump may not have meant a lot of what he said. Was it Melania or Ivanka who said he was “saying all those things just to get elected”?

Melania Trump and Michele sitting down to have  tea, to chat and tour the White House. File it under a list of Things I Never Would Have Thought Ever To Have Happened.

And now the Oscar Race, how is this going to land with the very left wing Academy? I think this says goodbye to anything light and fluffy like “La La Land” and hello to something that can’t be denied like “Fences” or the very political “Jackie.”

viola-davis-fences-1jackie-1fences-3Gay Pride 2016 2

“La La Land” Wins People’s Choice Award at Toronto

la-la-land-1“La La Land” is proving to be the People’s Choice. It was just won that award, considered very important by all Oscarologists at the Toronto Film Festival. I haven’t seen it yet, but it seems everybody loves it. So this surely pushes it squarely into the Oscar nomination category for Best Picture, as well as many other nominations in many other categories. It looks luscious. I can’t wait to see it!

Pundits from Sasha Stone http://www.awardsdaily.com to Tom O’Neil at Gold Derby have placed it at #1. In fact, for a complete list of TIFF winners check out awardsdaily.

“Queen of Katwe” with Lupita Nyong’o placed second. And “Lion” a Weinstein film with Dev Patel came in third. Lupita, people say, is looking at another Best Supporting Actress nomination for “Katwe.”Lupita 2016And Emma Stone is the front-runner now in the Best Actress category.

“La La” is directed by Damien Chazelle who directed the great “Whiplash” last year and won an Oscar for Supporting Actor for J.T. Simmons.

#TIFF # Oscars # La La Land # Emma Stone

Oscar Last Minute ~ “Spotlight” & Mark Rylance Rises

Oscar MarchOscar Nominees 2016 Supp.ActressLast minute Oscar thoughts. I can’t believe(!) but OTOH, I do, that Oscarologist Maestro Tom O’Neill just changed his prediction for Best Picture from “The Revenant” to “Spotlight!” Not only that also over at Gold Derby, my esteemed colleague Jack Matthews, seems to be having the same thoughts I was expressing in my last post about British Actor Mark Rylance upsetting Sylvester Stallone in Best Supporting Actor. Rylance is nominated for “Bridge of Spies” and Stallone for his Rocky 6 comeback “Creed.” Is everyone at Gold Derby just reading this blog and stealing my ideas, or are they really the REAL THING? Le Vrai Choise, as the French would say? You can check Gold Derby out here. http://www.goldderby.com

Or are we all witnessing and reporting the same thing? I.E. “Spotlight” could win, and personally I hope it does. And so could Rylance. Pictured below with his real life counterpart, who he played so subtly and brilliantly in “Bridge of Spies.”Over at the Wrap, Steve Pond has been suggesting that the Best Way to Win an Oscar Pool is “to follow the Best Picture.” Meaning that nominees in other categories usually tend to be in or from the Best Pictures. And lest we forget “Bridge of Spies” is also a Best Picture nominee, directed by Steven Spielberg.Mark Rylance 4And also Jack Matthews, in a really great article, the same one I referenced above at Gold Derby, is talking about Deadlines.  And I must confess, full disclosure, that I entered a for real Oscar pool this year, and picked the popular choices “The Revenant” for Best Picture and Sylvester Stallone for Supp. Actor, despite the qualms I’m writing about here.

After reading Tom and Jack, I feel I’m going to lose that pool. I would have won a free ticket to an AMC cinema movie. Oh! Just what I need! To see ANOTHER movie!

Well, being a film critic, it just never ends. They keep coming. And as we speak on a beach in Santa Monica, California, under their signature tent, the Independent Spirit Awards are being handed out. Check out http://www.awardsdaily.com who have a thread announcing the winners as they happen.

And what’s going on at the Indpendent Spirit Awards? I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see “Beasts of No Nation”s Abraham Attah, the child soldier win Best Actor there. And also who’s going to deny Idris Elba yet ANOTHER Supporting Actor trophy for the same film?

Idris Elba 4I also think “Tangerine” might surprise. You know that little tranny movie shot on an iPhone? It has a LOT of nominations.

And one more word about Mark Rylance. If there’s a living successor to Sir Laurence Olivier, he’s it. He’s a great actor. One of the greatest now living and is obviously going to go on to an equally stellar career on the big and small screen.

He was terrific in PBS’ “Wolf Hall” this year. In this day and age, there is beginning to be no big difference between TV and movies. Especially as far as acting achievements are concerned. His Oliver Cromwell was ANOTHER great performance. He was in nearly every scene of the entire successful mini-series of the dirty doings during Henry VIII’s reign and he held your attention every single minute. And Academy voters have that to consider,too, as they look at the Supporting Actor category.Mark Rylance Wolf Hall 1Plus, he’s an awards magnet. Every time he steps on a New York stage, they throw a TONY at him.Mark Rylance & Tony

Maybe they’ll start doing that with Oscars now, too.

 

Oscars 2016 ~ Is Cate Blanchett Turning Into Meryl Streep?

Stepmother 1At first when I saw “Cinderella,” which I just loved, btw, I wondered whether the superb performances by the two leading ladies, Lily James(“Downton Abbey”s Rose) and Cate Blanchett as the not-so-Wicked-but-merely-troubled-and-lonely Stepmother, would even be considered for this year’s Oscar race. I now think that two-time Oscar Winner Blanchett for Best Supporting Actress is definitely a possibilty for a nomination. I think she’s becoming the New Meryl Streep, and will get nominated for her usually outstanding work in almost anything she does, even Disney fairy tale extravaganzas. So the precedent has been set. At least in the Supporting Actress category.

I mean, look, if Meryl Streep can get nominated for playing a Witch in “Into the Woods”, her astounding 19th nomination! Then Blanchett certainly could for another fairy tale character.

Sasha Stone of http://www.awardsdaily.com says her most-looked-forward-to film of 2016 is the upcoming Todd Haynes “Carol” which is the lesbian love drama based on Patricia Highsmith’s “The Price of Salt.” And yes, Blanchett is the lead in “Carol.” So theoretically, she could get TWO nominations this year. Bringing her net total so far to six, with two wins.

And considering, as Sasha points out, this is another bleak year ahead for roles for actresses, Cate Blanchett very well pull off this double-nominated hat-trick.

And on the male side, I personally think it’s Eddie Redmayne by a mile for Tom Hopper’s “The Danish Girl” opening now Nov.26, right in the heat and heart of the Oscar season.

Eddie LiliCould Eddie Redmayne do a Tom Hanks(as they say) and pull off two Best Actor wins in a row? He sure could.

Could he beat out Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant”? And get two Oscars while Leo wasn’t won one yet? Yup.

As Oscar Grand-daddy Tom O’Neil is always pointing out in his Slugfests “They sometimes like to give you two.” O’Neill, of course, is at http://www.goldderby.com

Witness Luise Rainer, Spencer Tracy, Olivia de Havilland, Hanks, Kevin Spacey and Sally Fields…and more. Streep has three. Jack Nicholson has three…

Sometimes what is going to happen at the Oscars is SOOO clear. Even at this distance…

 

Oscars, in Conclusion…

Oscars 2015It’s been a very long night. My hands have nearly fallen off from typing, or should I say Oscar Blogging? til all hours. It was more fun last year. And my friend, Eddie Redmayne, won. So it was all worth it.

In case you haven’t heard “Birdman” won Best Picture, which I didn’t predict, and it also won Best Director, which I DID predict…and “Boyhood” only won for Best Supporting Actress, Patricia Arquette.

For a complete list of winners go immediately to http://www.awardsdaily.com

I know Sasha was behind “Boyhood,” too, so even though she got to go to the Oscars themselves for the first time in her life tonight, I’m sure she’s very bummed about “Boyhood”s loss.

But Eddie won the miracle win. So yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus, and sometimes things do turn out right. And quality and talent triumphs as it did tonight in the Best Actor category.

And “Grand Budapest Hotel” won FOUR awards, including Alexandre Desplat’s evocative musical score. I think that was as many as (blech) “Birdman” won.

But GOD, was this a lonnnnnng show? One of the longest ever.

And congratulations to Jeffrey Wells at htttp://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com.

He was all about “Birdman” from the minute he saw it at, I think it was Tellluride. He championed it and wrote about INCESSANTLY! It was driving his writing, like the percusssive score was driving “Birdman” the movie. And the character. I bet Jeff feels like HE won an Oscar himself tonight. But for a major Oscar blogger to go after a film and help and espouse it against all odds, initially, and for it to actually win is really, really an important thing for all us other bloggers. Makes them take our writing and our WORK much more seriously. Thank you for that, Jeff.

I wish I had liked “Birdman” more. It was about an actor, and I love actors. Everybody knows that. But I think this film demeaned actors and the theater. And I love the theater. Everybody knows that, too.

*sigh* Well, maybe I’ll see it again someday. But I doubt it.

My heart goes out to Richard Linklater “Boyhood”s visionary director. I can’t imagine how he feels tonight….and Sasha…

But as Scarlett O’Hara said “Tomorrow is another day.”

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